Revenge of Kero Kero (Audio CD),17 July, 2000|
List price $26.99
Rack and Roll; Rock and Ruin / 5
Less Shonen Knife than The Slits singing about frogs (an abiding thematic concern spread over several albums) the wonderful Ex-Girl fit into a wider context of bands like Angel' In Heavy Syrup, Buffalo Daughter and Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her who have taken some of the elements that used to be Rock and have shaken them up to produce something livelier and sexier than most of the more 'serious' of 'alternative' artists.
The album opens with the delirious Disco 3000 before touching on issues as diverse as frogs, tofu and sex, the last in a wonderful po-mo-funk rave-up of James Brown's Sex Machine. The analogy to the Slits is not an idle one, either - the delirious woops that pass as vocals, and the electro-shards that constitute the music, the preference for chanted fragments over rhythms instead of 'tunes', all recall the sheer joi-de-bruit of Ari Up et al. The music is closer to a funky Atari Teenage Riot than straight punk, it is true, but Kirilo, Fuzuki and Chihiro, who all share duties as lyricists, have the same kind of enthusiasm, and wit, in deconstructing pretension as The Slits had. Though they seem a whole lot fonder of kerokeropi.
This should not give the impression of a lack of originality - like many Japanese bands their eccentricism is well-matched by their eclecticism. Tofu is a weird acapella piece in the style of a madrigal, though ending with a chant of 'shut-up'. Zozoi is part Amerindian war-chant percussion, but with a complex Handel-like chorus overlaid on it. Upsy Daisy Ramsy is The Boredoms in San Francisco circa 1969, though ending with a wonderful bubblegum pop chorus.
This is the first of the major albums, along with Back to Mono Kero, and is the more varied and startling of the two. Both offer soundtracks for particularly fun - and neighbour-rattling -parties. Like all good parties this offers some rack and ruin aalong with the rock and roll.