Shonen Knife - Pop Tune
Posted Sep 5, 2012.
Featured Artists: Shonen Knife; Genre: Punk;
The highly prolific pop-punk band Shonen Knife released their new album Pop Tune this June. It’s their 18th studio offering and their third with the Good Charamel Records label. The opening three tracks show off their love for the Ramones, paying homage with fast rhythms, crunchy guitars, clean breaks, and cheerful melodies. “Welcome to the Rock Club” is the edgiest, most punk, song of the first half of the CD, though Shonen Knife’s version of punk is always fun and rarely scarier than a peanut butter sandwich or, on really menacing days, a hot chocolate. Speaking of food, the fourth song, “All You Can Eat,” revisits the edible, a Shonen mainstay. This may be my favorite song of the album because it makes the group sound less like punk rock robots and more like the band that released Pretty Little Baka Guy, their breakthrough album from the 80’s.
Continuing with the more ambient direction in the album, “Paper Clip” is a song written to make the life of an essential, if small, office supply seem less lonely. “Life changes, don’t cry” lead singer Naoko sagely advises the oblong fastener. “Psychedelic Life,” sung by the group’s new drummer, Emi, reminds us of at least one reason Shonen is so unique: “burning incense . . . meditation . . . acting like a bohemian” is as far away from Johnny Rotten’s idea of punk as it is from just about anybody’s idea of pop. The last two songs of the album are just as good as the rest, only moodier. When Ritsuko, the bassist, sings “I want to take a walk to get a change of scenery” on the song “Sunshine,” she epitomizes the group’s ability to make the mundane sound special. In that way, the line is a metaphor for the album, which seems almost superficial but is really chock full of little musical gems.
By Hans Mattingly