The glaring lack of new ideas in indie rock makes 90 percent of the bands that waste their time aping Sonic Youth seem as bright and interchangeable as a forty-watt lightbulb. At least San Francisco's Deerhoof distinguishes itself from the herd with a dense and distinctive radio-unfriendly brand of art pop that's never been afraid to beg for your affection. Dangerously cuddly, with doe-eyed, boy-girl vocals lost in the woods of improvisation, the gleesome threesome always ensures an adventurous listen -- whether it involves absent-minded milkmen or nuclear annihilation. Winsome pixie Satomi Matsuzaki still makes up the rules as she goes along, co-fronting an outfit with guitarist Rob Fisk that explores more uncharted territory than Magellan on a speedboat. They slow down considerably on The Runners Four, however, their latest experimental foray for Kill Rock Stars. Twice the length of previous efforts, the album calmly addresses espionage, smuggling underdogs and whether or not lemons cry out when you bite 'em. If that's not original, go tell it to Bambi.


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