San Francisco-by-way-of-Oakland indie rock trio Deerhoof brings us yet another musical masterpiece with Friend Opportunity, the band’s eighth album. In keeping with its album-a-year work ethic, Deerhoof began recording in 2006 and released the album at the end of January 2007, a feat almost inconceivable given the calculated whimsy and neoclassical grandeur that characterizes each distinct track. Producing a sound different from the group’s previous works, Friend Opportunity contributes to the indie-music repartee of accessible lo-fi rock anthems and holds its own against the band’s shockingly well-received 2006 release, The Runners Four.
Standout tracks such as “+81” — which leaked prior to the album’s release — feature a chorus of “choo choo choo choo beep beep” so sugary sweet that the band’s official website used it as the tagline. Another such song, “Kidz Are So Small,” striking in its simplistic chant (“If I were man and you a dog, I’d throw a stick for you”), sounds like it could have been tapped out on a jungle gym by a trio of preschoolers. “Matchbook Seeks Maniac,” featuring melodic crooning and bombastic guitar riffs, contrasts with the rest of the tracks, which helps to create a truly diverse indie-rock album. More often in Friend Opportunity than in Deerhoof’s prior releases, lead singer Satomi Matsuzaki opts to sing rather than scream, and her unending vocal range plays nicely with the multilayer guitar, bass, and drum tracks.
Over the band’s 13-year history, marked by member losses and gains (most recently the departure of guitarist Chris Cohen, who left the band to focus on his side project The Curtains), Deerhoof’s sound has evolved from its angular art-noise beginnings into a more harmonious cocktail of sing-along pop melodies. These recent tracks have scored attention from even the most critical listeners, including the writers at online music magazine Pitchfork Media, who praised the new album for its delightful novelty. Through Friend Opportunity, Deerhoof has made a name for itself in the esoteric indie-musician community and the far-reaching fanbase that its unique sound has attracted. This album is certainly the band’s best opportunity to acquire new friends and new fans.