Deerhoof Offend Maggie

How you feel about a Deerhoof album suitable for stadium tours and a couple thousand upheld lighters will determine much about how you’ll react to Offend Maggie. This is Deerhoof’s unabashed guitar rock album. It’s a bit startling at first to hear a streamlined Deerhoof tapering their quirks to service the songs and adhering to more sensible song structures. The group, particularly drummer extraordinaire Greg Saunier, have all dialled back the virtuosic intensity of their individual performances in favour of sophisticated melodies and subtle sonic nuances. Traditional Eastern melodies are strongly hinted at on the title track, woven into a cascade of Celtic themed acoustic finger picking. This bouncy, low-key acoustic approach is revisited with male-voiced ghostly harmonies and chilly atmospheric keys on "Family of Others,” and it’s the most satisfying new direction the band take. It’s the blandly repetitive riffage of the album opener and the simple bombast of Deerhoof’s first power-ballad, "My Purple Past,” that’ll give long-time listeners reason to pause. Offend Maggie isn’t as immediately compelling and wowing as the rollercoaster incline of quality Deerhoof’s previous string of albums have been but it’s most likely because they have already reached a level of genius that’s hard to top. Just don’t be offended if Maggie is more of a grower than a show-er. (Kill Rock Stars)