Deerhoof – Mountain Moves
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Even though politics were inescapable at the time of Mountain Moves' release, Deerhoof had a typically creative way to address the issues of the late 2010s. The result of their residency at Joyful Noise, the album finds the band collaborating with like-minded artists on songs of resistance that emphasize the importance of joining together. On "Con Sordino," they celebrate free speech (and song) as Satomi Matsuzaki rallies their forces with the equally charming and confident manifesto "we know we can sing." Adding new voices doesn't dilute Deerhoof's signature sound; instead, it expands it. Juana Molina joins the group on "Slow Motion Detonation," a testament to enduring resistance, while the throaty pleas of Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner make for a lively contrast with Matsuzaki's optimism on "I Will Spite Survive." Later, Laetitia Sadier brings her expertise at making political protest beautiful to "Come Down Here & Say That," which manages to be graceful and confrontational at the same time as she and Matsuzaki sing about cowards and dreamers. Indeed, Mountain Moves is one of Deerhoof's prettiest albums in some time, and its eclectic, full-hearted pop plays like a more concise version of Runners Four, particularly on the proggy parable "Kokoye." Time and again, the band proves it hasn't run out of styles to combine, nor ways to combine them: "Your Dystopic Creation Doesn't Fear You," which melds surf, funk, and pop with Awkwafina's rap, is a wild ride even for Deerhoof. Still, they manage to make the most unlikely juxtapositions work, especially on the opera-tinged version of Chilean ethnomusicologist Violeta Parra's "Gracias a la Vida" and the boogie-woogie-meets-funk cover of the Staple Singers' "Freedom Highway." Mountain Moves' whimsy often feels like a party that just happens to be political, but it's this sense of joy that makes protest -- and Deerhoof's career -- sustainable.