Deerhoof: Reveille



Kill Rock Stars/5RC

Perhaps you had a friend like Deerhoof's singer Satomi Matsuzaki in grade school: the forlorn, creative type who turned every doll's tea party into a miniature Dadaist excursion at Cabaret Voltaire. Even in her adult years, Matsuzaki is still that type of girl. But just one listen to the San Francisco quartet's third full-length release suggests that such a colorful worldview isn't just passing nostalgia.

Reveille is a giddy fusion of tweedle-dee vocals and haphazard instrumentation that can only evoke those bygone wind-up-toy days. In its vinyl form (which is distributed courtesy of Minneapolis label Global Buddy), Reveille instantly evokes memories of all of those freewheeling moments you spent listening to the record player, banging along to the songs with makeshift percussion. This is, after all, a group so playful that it covered the Shaggs' "My Pal Foot Foot" on a recent 7-inch--a testament to frivolousness if ever there was one.

But Deerhoof, who have been together since the mid-Nineties, are no amateurs, and Reveille is anything but a kid's record. However hummable the songs may be, there's a depth to them. The band's own reveille sounds with "This Magnificent Bird Will Rise," an assemblage of magnetic-poetry-style spoken word, broken down by a noisy guitar grind. The song is followed by the soap-bubble pop of "The Eyebright Bugler," a miniature that's sweet yet foreboding--like an Everlasting Gobstopper suddenly swallowed. But the mood quickly shifts on "Punch Buggy Valves" with fragmented lyrics and barely distinguishable eeps and oops, which sound like someone spontaneously composing a fugue on the way to school.

Still, an album like Reveille could never come together impulsively: There's precision in the movements of "The Last Trumpeter Swan," which contains an up-and-down guitar line that could have been filched from KRS label mates Unwound. On "Days and Nights in the Forest," Matsuzaki's day-dream lyrics about spirits in the trees could only come from someone who's still in touch with her mischievous side. Reveille was obviously conceived with imagination. It takes a certain degree of trained musicianship to create such beauty from chaos. Anything else is just child's play.