Review of Never Album by Micachu

Micachu & The Shapes can always be relied upon for attempting to communicate in a unique and barely comprehensible language; listening to which is most certainly an acquired taste. This offering, their third full-length offering if last years' live album recorded with the London Sinfonietta is counted and sounds an equally weird punk-meets-avant garde blend.

'Easy' kicks things off with a noisy fuzzy blend and a messy combination of percussion and electronics beneath distinctive, desperate sounding vocals. The track speeds up to an abrupt conclusion which sets the scene for 'Never' which sounds frantic, anxious vocals over a strange riff and pushing drums. Both the opening numbers are short blasts of tracks at less than two minutes each, but a snippet of just two personalities of a schizophrenic musical world that needn't be longer. 'Waste' is an instrumental constructed from an eclectic mix of electronically manipulated sounds that creates some kind of rock, electro, noise fusion before 'Slick' fades in back to a song, though it's melody doesn't really feel like a tuneful melody and its' accompaniment of rhythmic squelching and scraping is repetitive and uneasy.

Micachu Never Album

The synth hook of 'OK' cuts through its' percussive wall but leaves the vocals buried firmly amongst the mix; the hints of vocal that are discernible are those doubled by a baritone sax sounding synth, and are whining and painful heralding an uncomfortable blend that sounds like a nightmare churned up in a washing machine. 'Low Dogg' has an accompaniment more akin to a chugging distorted punk rock guitar. Of course, that's a sound that would be far too simple for Micachu & The Shapes, though; instead the timbre is more like a trumpet being blown through a vacuum cleaner (Mica is known to play a variety of objects from bottles to a Hoover), but it's a rhythmic accompaniment, nonetheless, if to a fraught melody.

The second half of Never provides us with just as much audio variety and experimentation. 'Holiday' sounds akin to a warped hippy record playing simultaneously with drums recorded in the bath; the ambience and acoustic is really mixed and strange. Following dissonant punk number 'Heaven' (really?!) 'You Know' actually offers us a hint of a stomping funky groove albeit at only one minute and thirty-one seconds long. Later, the listener does, however, get more relief; 'Top Floor' loses the brain bashing noisy anxiety of the tracks that have preceded it with a tamer, more down-tempo feel accompanied by the smooth held chords of some kind of piped organ type instrument. Maybe this is where the sound of blowing across bottles comes in? 'Fall' maintains a dreamier sounding more lazy feel, though dragging along almost like a record being played on the wrong speed with Mica's vocal meandering a weary tune over the surface. There's a whiff of normality with the slow fuzzy blues ballad 'Nothing', though concluding track 'Nowhere' soon rumbles back to the frantic anxiety and punk noise of the albums' opening tracks.

Not one for the feint-hearted or those with sensitive ear drums; better suited to those who enjoy a good challenge.

Hannah Spencer

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