Monday, August 10, 2009

Micachu -- Jewellery

Micachu -- Jewellery (Rough Trade)

For a youngster, Mica Levi has mastered both simplicity and complexity. Her debut album, featuring back up on some tracks from her band, The Shapes, is a terrific collection of post-punk pop. Her androgynous boyish vocals navigate through oddball rhythms, her own guitar scratchings and some surprisingly compelling melodies.

What I like most about this album is that I don’t think Mica ever slavishly rips off any particularly artist. It’s almost like she transfused Simon Reynolds’ Rip It Up And Start Again into her bloodstream and found a way to reconfigure a slew of old but not overused ideas.

Her quirky guitar playing and strong sense of rhythm drive most of her compositions. That sense of rhythm can be naughty or nice.

It’s quite nice on the single “Golden Phone”, which thrums along on a skipping beat with melodic harmony vocals and Casio beeps easing the groove along. This is a quirky summer song with a few wrinkles.

But the rhythms get a bit trickier on “Lips”, a full band effort which sounds like a twinkier version of The Fall’s psychobilly workouts. Mica plays some skittering guitar leads, while the Shapes pound out an infectious quirkbeat.

On “Just on Case”, the song is structured around a cacophony of strumming guitars, the ebb and flow of the rhythm giving the song a sense of rushing from out of nowhere. Mica uses dynamics effectively, with the music quieting down in spots for her to toss off some phrases like “I won’t have sex/’cos of STDs” that really grab the ear. There’s even a bit of a funk work out that crops up, sounding like a cuddlier Minutemen caught in a loop.

This is followed by perhaps the catchiest number on the album, “Calculator”. A Mica strum opens up into a playful tune. The simple melody is again enhanced by dynamics -- the band stops, the band kicks in, stops, kicks in and so forth. There’s a nifty middle eight where Mica’s guitar almost sounds like a ukelele.

Mica keeps the album moving, and the songs don’t overstay their welcome. In the tradition of Wire, every song has about all it needs and when the basic ideas have been exploited to maximum effect, the song ends.

This is simply a dazzling debut from an exciting new talent. I can hear bits of early XTC, The Cure, Scritti Politti, The Fall and others, but never to the point where the reference points overwhelm the tunes. This is because Mica, with her voice and guitar playing, keeps her personality front and center.

1 comment:

VICKY said...

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