Deerhoof is often inexplicable; difficult to pinpoint their location in regards to musical genres, and Offend Maggie poses many of the same questions for listeners; a fact that completely works to the benefit of the band.
Their newest effort offers much of the same discordant guitar work accompanied by the unique vocals of singer Satomi. This unique dynamic, or unique sound I should say, keeps the album interesting throughout, as you are not quite sure what to focus on: vocals or music.
Musically, this is the most accessible set of songs that the band has created, wavering back and forth between classic pop structures and post-punk sounds. On the first listen, you can tell that the band put forth a great effort by creating entire songs, rather than the stop-start song structures of their last album, Friend Opportunity.
Offend Maggie would earn fans of all genres based entirely on the music. Their are elements of grunge, early-emo, post-punk and, honestly, commercial rock n roll. All of this demonstrates that the sound of the band is growing and developing beyond what most adoring fans expected, yet the continual focus will always be the listener’s interpretation of Satomi’s vocals.
Deerhoof will always risk total adoration due to these vocals. At times, the heavily accented voice makes comprehension difficult for listeners, and as their focus heads toward deciphering the lyrics, their attention detracts from the overall listening experience as clever band interplay is missed. Although the formula is so simple, one often finds that following the band is quite difficult, as if we all had ADD. They do offer a more traditional song by way of “Family of Others,” which lends its sound to that of west coast Beach Boy revivalists, yet the absence of Satomi on this song makes it entirely unfitting as a Deerhoof song.
Nonsensical vocals make it difficult to take much from the album, meaning wise. One listen to “Basketball Get Your Groove Back” will lead most listeners to question the seriousness in the band’s approach to songwriting. Still, it is the dark contrast between instrumentation and vocals that always makes it difficult to define such a genre splitting band.
At the end of the day, you’ll find that despite its incessant pitfalls in the lyrical department the album is ultimately one of the more rewarding listening experiences you will come across this year. Deerhoof continue to explore their options whilst maintaining their ability to rest upon what has always made them interesting, Satomi’s inclusion as lead vocalist. It’s the dark horse for 2008’s Top Ten.