Paradise Girls was the opening track from Deerhoof’s 2015 album La Isla Bonita. It’s an insanely catchy, alt-pop song, infused with scratchy guitar licks and Satomi Matsuzaki’s high-pitched vocals. It’s driven along by Greg Saunier’s swinging, metronomic drumbeat and drenched in Deerhoof’s trademark quirkiness. Just don’t ask me to explain the video.
Deerhoof have been around and making a unique noise since the mid-’90s. La Isla Bonita was their twelfth LP and is one of their more accessible, though with welcome moments of avant-garde magic sprinkled through the grooves. Their previous releases have spanned dreamy pop, punk, hip-hop, indie and some truly ear-splitting – but exhilarating – experimental noise. You never know what to expect from them and you could find yourself alternately alienated and enraptured, depending on your tastes.
In 2015, on one of their rare UK tours, Deerhoof opened their shows with Paradise Girls. I’ve loved the band for a long time, but it’s only after seeing them live that they really made sense. In garish stage outfits, Ed and John effortlessly reproduce the band’s intricate, innovative riffs. Satomi is one of the “girls who play the bass guitar” from the song. She’s every bit as engaging and you would hope as she struts and jumps around with it, delivering her surreal lyrics. But it’s Greg, front and centre behind his battered, minimal drum kit who really draws the eye. Like a shaman, he’s a man completely lost in his music; machine-gunning his snare rolls, eyes squeezed shut and shoulders contorted in complete concentration and devotion to nailing a rhythm that will compel the audience to move. At one point he loses a stick to a rim shot, reaches for the spare balanced on the bass drum, knocks that on the floor too and carries on, beating the skins with the palm of his hand for the remainder of the song. I swear he didn’t miss a beat. He’s mesmerising. After that it’s the drums you listen for first on a Deerhoof record.
Their new album Mountain Moves is out next month.