We’ve never heard of Shonen Knife, who turn out to be a cult Japanese pop/punk trio who’ve been going for 35 years. Kurt Cobain was a fan and they toured with Nirvana, Dave Grohl helping their drummer with the tech stuff. We know this now but listening in ignorance they came over as a jolly but clichéd Japanese pop/punk girl band.
The music is fast but leans to the pop and retro side: you could easily imagine Mr Tarantino taking this album and making a movie round it. Fair play: they sound like a gang of lively youngsters peddling their idiosyncratic music to an unsuspecting public and not travel-stained veterans of world tours.
The music which is a bit Ramones-lite and sung in English despite the strong Japanese accents. The interweb reports that Shonen Knife love songs about food: Wasabi is a paean to Japan’s favourite condiment while Green Tangerine, a slower and more melodic tune, turns the focus on Kabosu tangerines, tiny and green and used like a lemon we learn. The food of sunshine and full of vitamins they are, too. Closer Cotton Candy Clouds is about cotton candy.
Elsewhere is a song about a Rock’n’ Roll T-Shirt (we swear they say “lock n roll” at one point. They wear them everywhere, apparently). Dog Fight is about going on a nice day to the seaside and seeing dogs that look like wolves having a barney; they’re scary but not enough to prevent a chorus saying “bow wow wow!” The riff’s nicked (a bit) from Only Ones’ Another Girl Another Planet, we think, while IMI (Emoji) deliberately steals the sound of Motorhead’s Ace of Spades. They claim to reference Thin Lizzy and Deep Purple, too, but unless there’s whisky in the wasabi we missed it.
Songs like Calabash are genuine punk in feel while Hawaii is a bit more surfer pop.
Standouts are hard to list; it’s not that kind of album. Tasmanian Devil is possibly the most serious tune, a proper girl-band punk tune.
We’ve grown to like this, and it’s got a certain puppy-dog appeal but we’d perhaps caution you about spending money before sampling.