I would appear to have stumbled over this wonderful album far later than the rest of the listening world! Better late than never is, however, a fitting adage.
Micachu is Mica Levi and she is joined by The Shapes (Marc Pell/drums and Raisa Khan/keyboards) here and there. Much has been made about the "experimental" nature of these fourteen compositions. I rather feel that Ms Levi's muse is touched by the spirit of pop than by the deeper excesses of the contemporary European avante garde. Some reviewers have also been less than kind about her voice but I rather like what she does with it. It's a clipped and cocky instrument with a limited tonal range but what she lacks in vocal prowess she more than makes up for with her hugely addictive compositional style and droll sense of humour.
For goodness sake listen to 'Golden Phone' as soon as you are able. It bursts out of the speakers with the kind of joyous sunny optimism which long, hot summers should all be made of! I defy you not to be drawn in by its gloriously ribald rhythms and party-time handclaps!
'Eat Your Heart', too, leaps up and down like a pit-bull terrier on a space hopper. The strangled yodelling vocal pitched somewhere between George Formby's ukelele innocence and Tom Wait's down-at-the-waterfront-dive darkness.
Some of the songs are less than two minutes long but still manage to pack a punch and raise a smile simultaneously. The sweet little revenge song 'Floor', gritty and grinding 'Lips' and the perky final track 'Hardcore' are three such gems.
'Turn Me Well' introduces us to the contents of Ms Levi's understairs cupboard. A number of useful household objects would appear to have been brought creatively into play in the mix (I'm pretty sure she has found a secondary use for her vacuum cleaner in the opening bars!) Delightfully barmy! 'Calculator' is as mad as a box of frogs too in the nicest possible way. It's hard not to warm to the guilessless of it all!
If I had thumbs they'd both be in the air right now for this splendidly idiosyncratic and unconventional debut!
The best album of 2009 in my opinion. I urge you to listen to it - it will only take 37 minutes of your time! Yes, the tracks are (sometimes infuriatingly) short, especially in these times where a 6 minute-long track is considered standard. But that's pretty much my only misgiving, and that doesn't really count as a criticism. There are a few great ones to dance to (Vulture, Lips, Golden Phone) and a few melodic and lyrical masterpieces (Floor, Turn Me Well) and some lovely sonic experimentation (Eat Your Heart, Curly Teeth). The only track I don't like is the Ship one. The guest "rapper" sounds a little creepy, but that doesn't impinge on the 5 stars that it so rightly deserves.
Oh - and I saw them live. The fact that they're not propped up by technical trickery does not at all compromise their sound. (Some tracks even sound better without all the hoovers and pots and pans and what-not.) And they didn't just play the songs off the album - there are much more corkers to come from these plucky young'uns!)
this has to be one of the most individual and brilliant sounding albums i've ever bought!
with its random bleeps and squeels, and an overall chaotic feel, this album may not appeal to everyone. anyone looking for a conventional sounding indie album may find it dissapointing but if your looking for something different, individual and genre shattering, then micachu should be right up your street.
in my opinion there is only one bad track which is "ship", but all of the others are brilliant (despite the fact that they rarely exceed three minutes). particular highlights are "Lips", "Golden Phone" and "Calculator"
Brilliant debut. I became interested in Micachu after hearing Levi's excellent soundtrack for Under The Skin and this doesn't disappoint. Only minor(and fixable) snag is the mp3 split between Micahu/Micachu & The Shapes which gets parsed a two separate albums once on an mp3 player.
Michachu probably doesn't festoon herself in tawdry baubles. However it would appear she has quite the magpie's eye (or ear) for samples. She has emplyed the 'kitchen-sink' approach to create a lo.fi, alt.pop 'n' beats mash-up. It's the sort of thing a younger Beck may have made on a sugar high.
Lead single 'Golden Phone' is the bouncy highlight, a triangle and keyboard shuffle. Elsewhere the simple sample is less effective but happily not here. An acoustic loop plays with a clicking-clapping beat.
Micachu tackles modern matters in a modern sound, singing about STDs and whatever Curly Teeth may be, often to an abrasive selection of rhythm. Chart-friendly radio humpers these are not. Album opener 'Vulture' flirts with dnb and breakneck changes in rhythm, 'Eat Your Heart' is lunatic street performance stuff. 'Curly Teeth' is a simple and effectice layering of acoustic guitar, fuzzy beats and squeaky sample. 'Ship' is a head-nodding, freestyle MC show with bedroom grime influences. Heck, there's even an ode to a calculator on here.
Eclectic yes, madcap yes, but crucially, enjoyable yes.
Losing a trail of thought: One of the most frustrating experiences that all of us occasionally suffer from. It all started when we were schoolkids thinking we had the right answer, before forgetting it. It's stuck with us ever since but not many of us thought it would end up in the form of music. The majority of Micachu's debut album `Jewellery' is a cocaine-fulled haze, eager to get every bit of rhythm and noise out of its system for everyones pleasure. And half of the time you think Mica Levi and her Shaped companions are losing their trail of thought or interrupting eachother but thankfully, every interruption out-does the other.
Lo-fi music always has its cynics, calling the recording process lazy, half-arsed, un-enjoyable, that's about it. But some underground shift has triggered a new means of thinking when it comes to lo-fi recording. `Jewellery' jumps onto the bedroom-recording bandwagon, but gives it a new meaning. A Bjork-esque, Harry Partch-inspired experiment of recording junk-shop household cutlery, hoovers, saucepans and gameboy gadgets might not sound entirely new to you but `Jewellery' boasts a complete mastering of this method. Again, your enjoyment is pleasingly interrupted by the piercing sound of a buzzing noise or an anonymous squeak. Lo-fi production this might be categorically but you hear every tiny detail and these details are timed to perfection to give that little bit more impact. It makes sense: Micachu's been waiting in the debut-album queue for sometime, floating about in the music scene, as a producer herself. But here, Matthew Herbert has been hired to squeeze every song within an inch of their life, making this album the most interesting of the year so far.
One listen, you're overwhelmed. Too much happens for instant digestion. But that's the point. Like a best friend, as your relationship progresses with `Jewellery', it becomes more open with sharing you some of it's secrets. Secrets range from carefully-placed adjustments in the drums or the vocals, but best of all it's the discovery of a glorious lyric that really warms you inside. Simplistic as they may be, tokens of hate such as: "And I put things all over the floor, if I stand on my bed I can see it all//And I put your things all over the floor, if I jump off my bed I can smash it all", especially when placed in between instrumental bliss, become all the more effective behind the blink-and-you-missed it sonics.
But above all else it's the range between ghostly pale noise experiments ('Eat Your Heart') and carefully crafted pop gems ('Golden Phone') that makes this album stand out in a crowd. So many skills to showcase, the balance between the ugly and the brilliant is perfect, somehow making the ugly glow at the same time. Opener `Vulture' indicates frenzied joy and although that's what you altogether receive, it's not too full-frontal to distract you from the more subtle qualities of the record.
Micachu is a pop pioneer, up there with Metronomy when it comes to thinking outside the box. Only this time, we're encouraged to wander outside that box with them and lose ourselves in these bewitched trails of thought