The last five years have yielded five albums from Deerhoof, all of which have yielded various degrees of critical acclaim. Such a big output in such a short period of time should rightfully be met with skepticism, and without question, some of this stuff is hit and miss. One minute is a rather Sonic Youth-ish experimental guitar track; the next they are toying with folk and electronics.
“The Runners Four” is more of this franticness, thanks mostly to Satomi Matsuzaki, who scats throughout, making it quite it hard to understand what she’s saying. Still, the group manages to intrigue more often than not with its anything-goes approach.
“Wrong Time Capsule,” “Twin Killers” and “Spirit Ditties of No Tone” are ace rockers with more of a straightforward style, while the drum-less opener “Chatterboxes” floats into one’s brain with chiming, rhythmic guitar bursts and angelic oo-oo’s. Elsewhere, the sleekly retro “Running Thoughts” out-Stereolab’s Stereolab with washes of synths and fuzzed-out bass and guitar rumbles.
This band certainly isn’t for everyone, and, loaded with 20 greatly varying tracks, “The Runners Four” is no exception. But Deerhoof has quietly carved out a place at the table of indie rock’s most interesting experimentalists, ensuring that “The Runners Four” rarely recedes into background music.