Published May 25, 2020Last year, Deerhoof celebrated 25 years of existence as a band. For the occasion, the group reissued its first full-length outings: the emergent The Man, the King, the Girl; the scrappy Holdypaws; and the purposeful Halfbird. Over the course of the last quarter-century, the Deerhoof trajectory has seen ups and downs but has always trended in a positive direction. A near-constant incline in sonic richness and thematic depth over almost 15 albums has seen the band gain increased appreciation by critics, fans and their peers.
In what can be viewed as a response to the current geopolitical, economical, and cultural environment, Deerhoof have returned to the lean and scrappy sound from which they were birthed. Thematically, Future Teenage Cave Artists imagines a not-too-distant future in which our society's collective outpourings are seen as the cave art of a primitive civilization that has since decimated itself. While this all sounds rather bleak, there is a slightly unfinished essence in Future Teenage Cave Artists, indicating that perhaps society hasn't written its own death sentence; there is still hope.
The album bursts into existence with the title track, an explosive piece that harkens back to the band's early-'00s albums Reveille and Apple O'. The guitars warp and warble, the drums are bomb salvos, and odd bits of sound ramble around as the voices of Satomi Matsuzaki and Greg Saunier drift along with a tremulous quality. Seeing as the LP was recorded through a laptop speaker, the tones are surprisingly full-bodied, even if they're not fully polished. This track sets the stage for what's to come: a raucous resurgence to Deerhoof's nascent scrappiness.
Deerhoof are imagining our world falling apart, and if we're not careful it just might. If Future Teenage Cave Artists is the only cultural artifact left behind in an apocalypse, future generations will at least have an interesting scripture to use to rebuild. (Joyful Noise)