A horrible hack

Shonen Knife


Year Released: 2014
Format: CD
Label: Damnably
Reviewed by MH on May 14, 2014
Shonen Knife - this is total teenage nostalgia for me. "Bear Up Bison" used to make it onto the odd TDK homemade compilation tape I used to make for my walkman when delivering newspapers and I have a few of their 7inches at home from around that time. When I first heard about them as a teenager it was because Kurt Cobain had bleated on about them and I saw them live a few times in the 90s. Most memorably at a lunchtime gig at the Rough Trade Shop in Covent Garden before it became a clothes shop. The bands we saw inside that pokey little shop - The Frank and Walters! Huggy Bear! Mambo Taxi! PJ Harvey! Dr. Phibes & The House Of Wax Equations! Loads more that I can't recall for the minute... Funnily enough there are a lot of in-stores in Brisbane and they get pretty hot and packed on occasion but none of them can capture the true mixture of sweat and 90s UK deodorant (Slazenger Sport roll-on sticks?) that the Rough Trade shop used to bless us with. I also saw them at Phoenix Festival. Looking at the poster for that one, they were on the main stage on the same day as Sonic Youth and The God Machine. They also played straight after Jacob's Mouse. Nice. I have a vague recollection of that day. I do clearly remember puking outside my tent that year though. I also remember waking up with half my face in a pile of ash from the fire after falling asleep on the edge of it. Those were the days, eh?!

Anyway, I haven't kept up with all their releases, and there are a huge number of them, as well as line-up changes, but I did like their last album so was keen to hear this one. Also, this is their 20th album - 20th I tell you!! Admittedly, that is a lot of music to keep up with and they are generally a band that I listen to sporadically with a song on the odd playlist or I listen to a few songs at a time rather than drilling whole albums into my brain.

Most people who have heard them will already know if they like them and you won't need me to tell you whether you will like this one or not. They certainly have a recognisable sound and this album is unlikely to disappoint any long-term fans. It kicks off with the hugely feelgood nature of opener and best song on here, "Bad Luck Song". Like I said earlier, this sounds like a Shonen knife album and itís full of classic rock influence. It's cutesy at times particularly lyrically, it's poppy and it's rocky. There are lyrics about rock music, and there are, of course songs about food ("Fortune Cookie"), and songs about drink ("Green Tea"). However, second track "The Black Crow" has some darker lyrics about not wanting to be awake and preferring to live in your own dreams. This one harks back to the sadder side of their last record. There are sweet harmonies and lots of oooh-ooohs throughout too. They occasionally go too far for me into rock opera-esque territory in the lyrics like on "Dance To The Rock" and seeing as I can barely spend 2 minutes in a shopping centre before starting to lose my mind I probably won't be singing along to "Shopping" anytime soon. It's not unlike Shonen Knife to sing about cats either and in keeping with old songs like "I Am A Cat" there is a song on here called "Like A Cat" which features meowing in the chorus. Now, according to the internet and social media people seem to love cats so maybe they will love to meow along with this one. Or maybe they just like cat photos.

I've enjoyed this - they really do a fine job on the feelgood side of things (for me anyway!) especially if you need perking up. Iím glad that the label sent this one in so we could get reacquainted.

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