Monday, August 21, 2017
Listen: Deerhoof - "I Will Spite Survive" ft Jenn Wasner
I've said it time and time and again but Deerhoof are one of the most innovative bands going constantly pushing themselves in different directions in a career that's spanned more than 20 years. After their last full length record The Magic was released last year I figured it'd be some time since we'd hear from them again or rather they would simple tour around that set of songs but in addition to being Joyful Noise Recordings 2017 artist in residence, they've also announced a brand new batch of songs.
Mountain Moves, their newest record, looks to be the band's most political. The band have been fairly vocal in this increasingly hostile political climate and Mountain Moves acts as a sort of response to America's fraught politics. It's also the quartet's most collaborative. Featuring artists like Lætitia Sadier and Awkwafina, Juana Molina and Xenia Rubinos, there's a number of unexpected guests that mesh surprisingly well. Despite the number of great singles released so far (there's been three and the album is out in 3 weeks time), my interest was piqued instantly by the mention of Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak/Flock of Dimes. While each band are distinct enough in their own right, I was incredibly intrigued to hear what a collaboration between Deerhoof and Wasner would sound like and it sure doesn't disappoint.
"I Will Spite Survive", the first single released from Mountain Moves earlier this summer, begins with a "Jessie's Girl" like intro before Satomi Matsuzaki enters with her saccharine vocals. It's a move synonymous with Deerhoof's oeuvre: pairing heavier rock moments with Satomi's feather light vocals especially as she sings sweetly of terrifying things and dark motives but it works exceptional well here as she coos the song's oft-repeated and most gripping lyric: "You could outlive your executioners". Suddenly Wasner enters and everything coalesces into a wonderful harmonic moment: Wasner, Matsuzaki, and band are in perfect alignment and the effect is overwhelming. It's a song meant to rally for the tough fight ahead and it achieves this not in the high intensity, heart-thundering style of punk but rather in the universal, communal language of pop. Both Wasner and Deerhoof know their way around ferocious guitar solos and attention-grabbing distortion but "I Will Spite Survive" communicates through clarity and harmony. The lyrics are simple and memorable: repeated often like a protest chant; the instrumental interplay effortlessly layered but crystal clear and the harmonies are immaculate. The song is hopeful, but cautiously so in a way that acknowledges the difficulty of pressing onward and yet it's not handled like a slog. There's no dissonance: cognitive or compositional. Each phrase sung is reliant upon its neighbor either undercutting it or expanding upon it as the band helpful try to point you in the direction they think you should take: "Sleep at night, if you can stay alive". Each lyric is another call to rally: you can beat those trying to end you if you're willing to do the work. Earn your rest, celebrate. Deerhoof are able to convey a pretty poignant message with very little. And that's why a song like "I Will Spite Survive" works. It's catchy pop melodies and nimble lyricism are tailor made to endure.
Deerhoof's newest album Mountain Moves is out September 8th on Joyful Noise Recordings. You can pre-order the album in a variety of formats including limited edition blue swirl LP here.