I read a review somewhere before listening to this record, that said UK three-piece Micachu and the Shapes’ new album Never was ‘pop music for the 2010s.’ I hope not. I’m still trying to work out whether I’m severely lacking in indie street cred – behind the curve on what’s cool, with an archaic ear – or whether the album was plain bad. What’s clear is I didn’t get it.
Classically-trained front-lady Mica Levi is one experimental lass, I’ll give her that. She uses homemade instruments and everyday objects to make sounds on the record, which is cool – I’m all about experimentation – but the result on many of the songs is well, too much noise. This is particularly evident on the album’s title track 'Never', which starts out sounding like the wacky soundtrack of a 1990s video game. It’s a manic, you might say headache-inducing track. Mario Kart on acid.
There was too much going on in many of the other tracks – unusual time signatures, heavy distortion, reverb. Songs that came dangerously close to being catchy were often ruined by these effects, there was simply too many competing elements for your ear. I struggled to find a positive until the fourth track, the melodic 'Slick' featuring Mica’s singing voice, rather than the child-like chanting that featured on earlier tracks such as 'Easy'. The weird feeback-y vibrations in the background of the track however did their best to put me off.
'Low Dogg' was a standout track, which utilised a hip-hop influenced beat and actually got my head bopping a little. This was bettered by the next track, 'Holiday', which had a dreamy 60s surf/doo-wop chorus. My favourite from the album. The final track 'Nothing', got another pass mark from me and utilised this old-school pop ethic.
Despite the eclectic genre-swapping tracklist, I felt a little on edge while listening to the album and I struggled to come up with a time when I’d actually want to chuck it on my stereo. Songs came close to being ones I’d listen to again, then were swiftly removed from this list thanks seemingly unnecessary elements such as weird animal noises and chanting. Moreover the few tracks that shined, have been done before by bands that have done it better. At times I pined to get my quirky pop fix by chucking on some Architecture in Helsinki, at others I wanted to trade Micachu and the Shapes' dreamy surf hooks with some Best Coast.
So I’m left scratching my head. I didn’t like the album, but maybe I’m just over the hill.
Review Score: 4.8 out of 10.