Socialist Worker

Deerhoof’s new album is a return to experimental roots

Future Teenage Cave Artists is a tilt back to the earlier work of this veteran indie band, writes Alan Kenny. And as ever, they’re not afraid of politics

Issue No. 2705

Album cover for Future Teenage Cave Artists by Deerhoof

Album cover for Future Teenage Cave Artists by Deerhoof

This band have stuck to their guns with something of a unique sound for the last 20 years.

They smash together brilliant catchy pop-hooks with often discordant, angular rock/punk guitars, a ton of percussion and a big dose of synths all frequently imbued with some West Coast vibes.

The ethereal vocals of Satomi Matsuzaki are only ever moments away from some kind of jarring musical construction that confounds ­convention and expectations.

2017’s Mountain Moves saw Deerhoof find some smoother edges and a host of guest vocals including Awkwafina.

There was even a cover of Bob Marley’s Small Axe.

New album Future Teenage Cave Artists is a decided tilt back to the more experimental side of their work, drawing more on jazz themes, especially in its percussion. The track Reduced Guilt is a good example.

Deerhoof have never been afraid to pull back the lens and look at the bigger picture and Future Teenage Cave Artists also has these moments.

The title track is classic Deerhoof. It contains the lyric, “Gonna paint an animal on a cave wall/Gonna leave it there forever while empires fall.”

Deerhoof were vocally anti-war in 2003 and their Apple O’ album reflected this. They are never afraid to make statements on their Twitter feed.

Most recently on 14 May came this, “Pandemic exposes the hideous inequalities and corporate ­strangleholds on our lives, and what do we do about it? Corporate handouts the likes of which we have never seen.

“We are seeing inequality and corporate monoculture assert themselves as reassurance against uncertainty.”

None of this is a reason to listen to their music of course. This new album is neither their best and certainly not their most accessible.

But have a listen through their back catalogue. There is much to enjoy and a great deal of inventiveness.

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Article information

Fri 15 May 2020, 16:47 BST
Issue No. 2705
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