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First Listen: Deerhoof, 'Breakup Song'

NPR icon by Stephen Thompson

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Though anything but predictable, Deerhoof's music has evolved to the point where it reliably conveys an endearing mix of adorability and eccentricity, with just enough noisy, discordant menace to hold the cuteness in check. A true original whose songs bleat and clatter in unexpected ways, the San Francisco band wisely keeps each moment tethered to the sunny sweetness of singer-bassist Satomi Matsuzaki.

On 12 albums stretching back to the mid-'90s, Deerhoof has traveled down many side roads — and throughout the new Breakup Song, out Sept. 4, the group honks and shimmies down a few more. But the 30-minute set never feels aimless or formless, opting instead to unfold in a flurry of short, playful, charming blurts.

Ideas rarely command Deerhoof's attention for more than a couple minutes at a time: Songs like "Flower," "To Fly or Not to Fly" and "Mario's Flaming Whiskers III" twitch by like especially satisfying blinks. As a result, by the time the dreamy, set-closing "Fête d'Adieu" winds down, it's hard not to relaunch Breakup Song from the beginning, if only to roll around in its warm, smart, wonderfully sideways pop sound some more.

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