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Ex-Girl

In Return to Mono Kero (the album's alternate title), Ex-Girl romps through the entire panorama of glorious '70s excesses. The opening track, "Waving Scientist," is a Pet Sounds-worthy a cappella harmony composition that messes with clear tone and hairsbreadth dissonance, and includes passages bordering on operatic parody. (Consider Mannheim Steamroller with strategic interventions by Led Zeppelin and The Muffs.)

Eight tracks later, following a shrewdly sequenced melange of poppy punk processed through electronic tricks and outer-space effects, comes the full metal meltdown of "Sasuke." You can almost feel a packed and frenzied arena, complete with seething mosh pit, wall-to-wall light show, blinding fireworks and general mayhem.

"Sasuke" is an enormous-sounding track, climaxing a generally huge record with no production expense spared. Ex-Girl is all about production, and this record captures the headiness of its live performance, a spectacle of neon, day-glo, sparkle, theatrics and deafening noise. And the outfits! This is show biz like it oughta be.

Colorful, cute and flirting with cartoon danger, frontwomen Kirilo, Chihiro and Fuzuki could almost be creations of an anime artist in their native Japan. They sing in English, but they still don't make much sense beyond "Let's get excrements of dog, marshmallow stuck to the sole of red shoe;" and "Radio, video, gonna get a suitcase." "Cucumber Surrender" contains their most cohesive lyrics, but it's all about vegetables.

The music itself is fundamentally punk, with a heart of pure glam and the very soul of hair metal. The charm of the women's tight harmonies, novel in the context, provides a leitmotif.

More by Linda Ray

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