Mimi Ferocious

250 Times Sweeter Than Sugar

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"Ferocious" is not the first word that comes to mind upon hearing the first full-length release from these New York City-based post-new wavers. 250 Times Sweeter Than Sugar is an album of playful pop/rock, a confection befitting its title. Mimi Ferocious pick up somewhere around where Missing Persons and Romeo Void left off, a sensible approach given the mid-2000s appreciation of '80s pop. An imperfect production leaves lead vocalist and songwriter Stephanie St. John feeling oddly removed from her band in places, only the charming backing vocalists bridging the distance. Nevertheless, St. John's vocals are strong if somewhat predictable, standing out on the lead single "Chariot," while her inventive metaphors brighten the low-key "Favorite Destiny." She's the focus, but her bandmates have their moments, from the airy backing vocals that add a nice spark to "Sister Barbara" to the shimmering cascade of a riff that (wisely restrained) guitarist Michael Preston bestows on "The Best Ones." On Billboard songwriting award-winner "Jonathan," bassist David Wilson hints at the skills that will allow him to pull off a tour de force on a faithful, triumphant cover of Donna Summer's disco classic "I Feel Love." It's on that song that the singer finally lets loose, testing her range and transcending its vibrato-laden nasality, resulting in the best track on the album. While she evinces a limited bag of tricks vocally, St. John demonstrates smart songwriting and vibrant personality on this album, and she and her band succeed in reviving new wave sparks while not sounding at all dated.

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