Shonen Knife

Candy Rock

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Since the departure of longtime bassist Michie Nakatani at the end of the '90s, the sisterly duo of Naoko and Atsuko Yamano (vocals/guitar and drums/bass/vocals, respectively) have continued to carry the Shonen Knife torch, seemingly regressing to their stripped-down amateurish days of old. Gone are the quirky production flourishes of "Brand New Knife" and "Happy Hour," replaced by a slightly uncomfortable feeling that they are just not trying as hard anymore. Their two previous Japanese-only albums, "Strawberry Sound" and "Heavy Songs," may have hinted at this stripped-down approach, but those albums were far more interesting and musically colorful. Without the slightest hint of keyboards, Naoko and Atsuko pluck, bang, and strum their instruments delightfully, but somehow forgot to bring songs with them to the studio. All eight tracks seem lost and in search of a hook or melody. A few decent hooks do pop up occasionally, but are forgotten once the album is over. And does one detect a careless approach to the vocals? Fortunately, Shonen Knife are doing things exactly as they wish. Unfortunately, they aren't interesting this time around.

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