Micachu and the Shapes’ first album Jewellery consisted of two kinds of songs. The impressively complex and decadently layered ones that blow you away and the ones that sound something like what you might hear a group of street musicians performing with trashcans and cheap electric guitars in a New York Subway stop. Their second album, Never is mostly just the second.
Released in 2009, Jewellery, was for the most part reviewed as impressive at times but incosistent. “Mostly,” said Pitchfork writer Douglas Wolk in his 2009 review, “Jewellery is a vehicle to show off the band’s hoard of shiny new sounds, although they haven’t yet figured out how to sort out the gemstones they’ve got in abundance from their ice chips and broken glass.” Unfortunately, seem to have regressed with Never. The ice chips and broken glass took over.
“Waste” is driven by beeps, screeches and the reverb of Levi’s altered vocals. It’s harsh and lacks a real defining factor. For the most part, it’s noise.
“Low Dogg” is a bit better, as it has a more distinguished beat, but is unable to build or come together in any way. Spoken vocals are placed over more screeches and an occasional sound that could easily be a frog croaking. Even “Low Dogg,” at a mere 2:41, is a task to get through though.
Near the end of Never is “Nothing,” a smoother, calmer track that lays off the trash-can drums and puts more into the vocals. It is a nice break, but not enough to cancel out the sounds that came before it.
Unlike Jewellery, which was whimsical and pleasant at points, Never is weird and chaotic. When each of the 14 songs begins, you hope it will be the shining moment that you have been waiting for, but then a reckless, lo-fi guitar comes in and you wait for the next.
Never in a way succeeds at what it is. It is meant to be weird and obscure, and Levi probably had no intentions of it being a mainstream success. But, from a listening perspective where enjoying the music is the most important, Never fails with flying colors.
Tags: brian benton, Jewellery, Mica Levi, Micachu and the Shapes, Micachu and the Shapes - Never album review, Never, Reviews