Shonen Knife

Strawberry Sound

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Shonen Knife's first album since the departure of bassist Michie Nakatani starts out in a familiarly lo-fi punk vein, with the buzzsaw guitars and cute, nonsensical lyrics of "Buggy Bug" defiantly signalling business as usual for the Osaka pop-punk group. The next couple of tracks reinforce the point, with the same mixture of infantile, lo-fi and catchy songs, and will doubtless reassure fans just as much as they irritate people who found the band's previous output tiresome and forced. Nevertheless, Nakatani's departure is still noticeable. On previous Shonen Knife albums she always contributed two or three good songs, often demonstrating a subtler guitar pop-orientated sound in contrast to guitar/vocalist Naoko Yamano's Ramones-like punk. The band tries to fill this gap by expanding the sound somewhat, with "Gokiburu" seeing the band trying their hand at a sort of nonsensical funk workout, and elsewhere there are strange synth and drum machine interludes, as in "CM Song"." The poppy "Chinese Disco" and the '60s psychedelic pastiche "Mayonnaise Addiction" successfully deviate from the punk template but there is also a lot of filler and overall Strawberry Sound feels directionless and unfocussed.

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