Deerhoof: Future Teenage Cave Artists
Let’s start at the end: Deerhoof’s 15th album wraps in somber quietude, as drummer Greg Saunier plunks out a minimalist piano arrangement of Johann Sebastian Bach’s church cantata “I Call on Thee.” For a band defined by jovial noise, the sadness and stillness is stirring. Future Teenage Cave Artists is far from a downer—their magic remains the inimitable collision of Saunier’s booming, free-form drumming, Satomi Matsuzaki’s chirpy voice and the icicle-stab guitars of Ed Rodriguez and John Dieterich. But the album does feel heavy with the burden of life in 2020, simultaneously mourning the end of one dream and signaling the birth of another. The jolting freak-funk workout “Farewell Symphony”—its title is a reference to the famous Franz Joseph Haydn piece— imagines a “standing ovation” of all the things succumbed to extinction by capitalism. The atmospheric “Fraction Anthem” finds Saunier singing in a melancholy, wispier-than-usual falsetto over trashily recorded drums and blobby synths that pool like ink blots. But hope seeps in, as it always does—from the youthful nods in the song titles (“Sympathy for the Baby Boo,” “O Ye Saddle Babes,” the chaotic “New Orphan Asylum for Spirited Deerchildren”) to the moments of exquisite beauty lurking among the jittery riffs and manic grooves. Saunier and Matsuzaki let their voices spin in a gentle call-and-response on the dreamy “The Loved One” and “Damaged Eyes Squinting Into the Beautiful Overhot Sun.” Deerhoof are brave enough to endure tough times, and they’ve called on thee to join them.