Shonen Knife - Adventure

by Steve Ricciutti Rating:7 Release Date:2016-04-03

It’s been 35 years since the arrival of Shonen Knife and, like most bands that stay safely within their comfort zone (despite personnel changes), their latest isn’t a big surprise, a fact that can be interpreted a number of ways.

The band takes from a handful of source material and this makes Adventure seem like a Whitman’s Sampler of rock and pop. “Rock and Roll T-Shirt” is my favorite; a raunchy riff and crunch chord slice of 70s hard rock pie.  “Green Tangerine” is a close second. The girl group harmonies, bubblegum lyrics, and ringing strumming make this song irresistible. I mean; “Tiny green tangerine, happy food for you” is nothing if not utterly adorable.

The blistering “ImI,” a thank you note to Ronnie James Dio and his hook ‘em horns sign (shaped like the letters ImI) is a stand-out as well. Shonen Knife call the symbol “the secret code between you and me.” The gals shout out “I have the power!” before chanting “Repent!” over and over. It’s damn cool.

“Wasabi” is kind of a throw-away novelty song, something that sounds like Black Sabbath meets Puffy AmiYumi, and “Cotton Candy Clouds” combines Beatles harmonies and jangly guitars with rapped lyrics to create a song that is an acquired taste. “Calabash” has a tasty hair-band guitar solo and shows just how much Judas Priest they’ve been listening to over these last three decades. “Dogfight” is another earworm that gets in your head and refuses to leave.

Shonen Knife is nothing if not one of the most earnest bands in rock. They wear their influences proudly and stick to what they do best. You may find this a bit too much of a novelty or perhaps too cloying for your taste, and that’s certainly understandable. But they fill a niche and they don’t take themselves seriously at all, and in the broad landscape of rock, there’s plenty of room for what this band does, and does well. 

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