Momus

20 Vodka Jellies

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    9
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Although 20 Vodka Jellies is, as the cover says, "an assortment of curiosities and rarities," it also turns out to be one of Momus' strongest and most accessible efforts. Most of this material consists of well-produced demos (many recorded by other artists), plus a few new songs and some B-sides and outtakes that hadn't made it onto an official Momus release. This sort of collection usually doesn't reward anyone besides an artist's most devoted fans, but 20 Vodka Jellies is actually an effective showcase for Momus' ample skill as a pop songwriter, as well as his musical versatility. "The End of History" and "Nobody" were recorded by Japanese singer Noriko "The Poison Girlfriend" Sekiguchi on her Shyness album, while the first five songs on the album were written for Shibuya-kei star Kahimi Karie; there's also the Momus version of Karie's Japanese Top Five hit "Good Morning World," originally commissioned for a cosmetics advertisement. Aside from being some of his most compulsively listenable material, these songs fit right into the Shibuya-kei movement's diverse, often kitschy tastes, neatly demonstrating Momus' own eclecticism. Also present are four "grunge demos," made when the prospect of a collaboration with Nirvana producer Butch Vig seemed likely; aside from the use of distorted electric guitars, they aren't a tremendous musical departure, but they are solidly written, humorously quirky pop songs. Still, even if he can't quite pull off hard rock, Momus can travel as far afield as crooning a trip-hop/lounge version of the Buzzcocks' "Orgasm Addict," which works surprisingly well once you get past the bizarreness of the concept. In general, the lyrical sensibilities on 20 Vodka Jellies aren't as overtly twisted or perverse as his other late-'90s releases (although several moments certainly are), but the music is impressive and extremely well crafted, and the lyrics are still literate and playful.

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