Shonen Knife's first album, 1983's Burning Farm, has all the things the band became (slightly) famous for, well, the things that endeared them to indie rockers, anyway, like cuteness and catchy tunes. While they can barely play their instruments and the vocals are amateurish at best, they play and sing with an unbridled joy that gives the record all kinds of charm. They sound like schoolgirls playing early Beatles songs filtered through the Ramones, Blondieand the Rezillos. Only with no pesky technical proficiency to get in the way. The lyrical concerns are truly their own, too, with songs about parrots, elephants, Barbie and cleaning products sung mostly in Japanese. It would be easy to go too far and call them the Japanese Shags and wink at their cuteness, but if you forget the image and just listen to the music, they are so much more interesting than that. Very influential also to bands like Redd Kross and Nirvana, as well as the whole American indie pop scene of the late '80s and early '90s. Many of these songs ("Twist Barbie," "Tortoise Brand Pot Cleaner's Theme," "Burning Farm," and "Watchin' Girl") were re-done for 1993's Let's Knife in inferior, cleaned up versions. If you have that album you need to check this one out to hear the Knife in their early, more exciting stage. If you have no Shonen Knife and are looking for a place to start, picking up this record and the slightly superior second album, Yama-no Attchan, would be a good idea.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra