Japanese noise-rock group Melt-Banana's manic avant-punk bursts are best enjoyed in small doses, so it's only natural that the group has released dozens of singles, EPs, and splits since forming in the early 1990s. 2005 collection 13 Hedgehogs compiled 56 tracks (!) from five years' worth of releases, and the slightly shorter Return of 13 Hedgehogs compiles non-album output from the group's second decade, including tracks originally taken from split releases with the Locust, Fantômas, Young Widows, and even ska-punk band Big D & the Kids Table. This collection covers many facets of the band's sound, from the thrashing hardcore of "Dog in Lost" to the more angular "Puddle, Float" to turntable experiments "Quite Free" and "Grave in the Hole (Pitfall Fits a Bit)." There are even bizarre experiments with dub ("Capital 1060 Hospital") and ska ("Monkey Man"), as well as the Autotune-featuring pop-punk anthem "Love Song." The group also does a revved-up cover of Devo's "Uncontrollable Urge," which is otherwise relatively straightforward, unlike their shockingly mellow rendition of "We Will Rock You" from a 2002 Queen tribute album, which is not included on this compilation. Return of 13 Hedgehogs is a gleefully sadistic blitzkrieg of hits, showcasing much of Melt-Banana's best material.
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AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson