Like a blaze of fury, LA-based girl outfit, Mika Miko are set to drop We Be Xuxa on May 5th, and in paying homage to the entirely refreshing 21 minutes it takes to listen to the entire record, I’ve decided to write this review in the same amount of time. I typically choose to shun those that speak of the death of the album as a genre, much the same way I blast my high school students for badmouthing the value of a novel. In today’s market, the MP3′s take first dibs, but I still love a great rock record, particulary one that holds a similar vein from top to bottom; I can’t speak highly enough about bands that strive for this type of thing. I abhor sell-out tracks created strictly for radio airplay. Who doesn’t? What’s entirely refreshing about We Be Xuxa is that the band doesn’t need a lot of time to get the message across; 21 minutes, in and out, bashing skulls, bitching about turkey, and spanking the audience with punk noise and a whole lot of pissy energy.
People remember Mika Miko’s previous Kill Rock Stars release for the exact same reasons they will love this album. It’s a mindfuck of structured power-chord noise and chick-growling. “Blues Not Speed” sets tone right from the starting gun with the duo of Victor Fandgore and Jet Blanca growling angst-ridden vocals outward. Long known for their crazy live shows, Mika Miko begins this quickie exactly the way you’d expect them to and the pace doesn’t let up a second for the next 19 minutes of the album. Rusty and hell-bent punk rage and loud distortion and low-fi ohh-ooohs are all over this thing, and while the outward sound is one of chaos, it’s important to note that this band isn’t sloppy and harnesses loudness and anger into a ear pleasing package.
As with previous efforts, Jessica Clavin’s bass grooves are at the heart and center of each short track. In “I Got A Lot (New New New),” the bass lines hold the fort down, as with nearly every track on the record. The bass work signifies that Mika Miko is not solely rooted in chaotic noise, but more in intelligent outburst. What’s laid bare in this track is a punk root, devoid of showmanship and artisitc flourishes. It’s loud, it’s violent, it’s whiny, and the band is acutely aware of what they’re doing. Why ice a cake if it’s going to be gobbled down in a few seconds?
The vocal work is another critical nod to the frenetic 21 minutes of We Be Xuxa. Fangdore and Blanca shred with their pipes in quite a few various styles. In “Turkey Sandwich,” a near rusty and whiny “I Want Turkey” repetitively pierces the audience’s ear, and the delivery is unpretentious, flawed, and on the verge of breaking down completely. Many tracks teeter on the verge of falling apart vocally, but there’s a significant separation from a simply random DIY punk band. There are slight variations of delivery that shuffle the album quickly from top to bottom. Although power chords and distortion rule the roost here, some tracks are more brooding, namely “Totion” where a spooky bass groove is coupled with a looping guitar riff straight out of a horror flick. Distant and sarcastic vocals splash against this backdrop, producing a pretty major move away from the rest of the record and signifying something important; they’re still punk, but they’re punk with some definitive talent.
There are a lot of styles that work, and there are plenty of albums I’ve heard this year that pretentiously over-wander. I liken it to 2008, when I sat down with Black Angels’ Directions to See a Ghost and heard a lot of aimless wandering creating an album that was about 25 minutes too long. Mika Miko embodies the punk standard of get in and get right back out. 21 minutes of gravelly low-fi ear candy awaits you on May 5th. Listen to the previously mentioned killer “I Got A Lot (New New New) and preorder the album; give yourself 21:50 to get punched in the face.