Super Junky Monkey

Songs Are Our Universe

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A final career retrospective for Super Junky Monkey, Songs Are Our Universe is an exhausting listen, but also a good chance to be impressed. A quick description of the band would be "Japanese all-girl Faith No More," or Primus, but, like most quick descriptions, it doesn't do them justice. Super Junky Monkey have the same mildly demented atmospherics, that funky bass, and those crazy vocalizations, but that's about it. For one thing, the band uses no synthesizers or children choirs, or even twin bass guitars, only a standard rock setup with a sound closer to hardcore than funk or alternative rock -- if "Love and Peace Hard Core" gives no indication of this, the inspired screaming and frantic drumming that sounds like it's bursting with energy even on the slow parts surely does. But this is only the foundation of their sound, and over the course of the record, Super Junky Monkey romp through metal, psychedelia, hip-hop, King Crimson-esque interludes, and then back to raw crunchy punk rock and abrasive funk metal with the ease of, indeed, a monkey swinging between lianas. The best thing about it is, however, that the group never forgets they're here to rock -- almost every riff is a killer, though they're shrouded in a cloud of wackiness and soon discarded because the band has found something more shiny and doesn't care to repeat what they've played once anyway. Sometimes it actually sounds like Super Junky Monkey are too conscious about being odd -- as if they take a conventional rock song and try to make it not look like one, adding all sorts of crazy shouts and tempo changes. Besides, this is definitely too much to digest in a single sitting -- Songs Are Our Universe is best digested as a pair of separate albums, not a two-disc monstrosity. But still, this is a mighty fine slab of off-kilter, catchy rock.

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