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Deerhoof

I've no idea what Satomi Matsuzaki means when, on Deerhoof's new tune "Kidz Are So Small," she sings, "If I were a man, and you a dog, I'd throw a stick for you." But it sounds delightful and endearing. And the way the song's barebones electronic music evolves from remedial hip-hop to Brazilian carnival rhythms to a marching-band beat is so beguiling, I want to listen to it again and again.

Enigmatic lyrics, wild stylistic roaming and a sense of charming fun--that's pretty much the San Francisco band's latest CD in a nutshell. Since the release of 2005's The Runners Four, the big news is that Deerhoof is a trio--Matsuzaki, drummer Greg Saunier and guitarist John Dieterich--having amicably parted ways with fourth member Chris Cohen. The almost-as-big news: The avant-garde rockers have heartily embraced pretty pop melody.

No matter which genres the new songs borrow from, the results are imminently catchy and hard to resist. They meld garage-blues, Herb Alpert-style horns and bubblegum pop on "+81." Then there's minimalist prog-rock of "Choco Fight" and psychedelic punk skronk on "Cast Off Crown."

Some of the melodies may be knotty as all get-out, and certain songs have such an angular, dissonant nature that they may take getting used to. If you don't have the patience for that, this probably isn't the album for you. If you persevere, you'll be rewarded with a rich listening experience.

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