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Record Reviews


The Mint Chicks

"Why is it less of a hassle to die in your sleep?"

Through a silly amount of vocal effects Kody Nielson kicks The Mint Chicks third LP into life with an instantly memorable line. The tone is set. This isn't going to be just another album.

Before we dive in, a quick history lesson:

After a series of mildly aggressive, blissfully sloppy punk singles The Mint Chicks released their fantastic debut album - Fuck The Golden Youth. Recorded in a remote shed on primitive equipment, the record was equal parts raw 'fisting' to the then over-polished music mainstream and undercooked punk masterpiece. The follow-up - Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! - headed to the other end of the spectrum - clean, crisp and overloaded with plenty of brilliant pop corrections.

At this point in their career, the group hit a snag. The critical success of their debut had been super-succeeded by the commercial success - in relative New Zealand terms at least - of the follow-up. The stakes were now much higher. Around the same time, the band also faced internal changes with bassist, Michael Logie, leaving the group and the remaining trio relocating themselves to Portland.

That brings us to now, with the band arriving at their third offering - Screens - which this time finds the Kiwis venturing out from their solid punk foundation into a world inhabited by space age creatures and technological amalgams of life and existence.

Screens not only doesn't sound like anything the band has ever previously committed to record, but is also unlike anything my ears have ever had the pleasure of hearing. Labeled as 'shitgaze' or 'troublegum', the musical style finds the group's signature angled guitars replaced by toy keyboards, analogue synths (if there is such a thing) and heavily distorted vocals. Their punk core is still there, but it's suffocated under a barrage of lo-fi vibrancy, butchered pop and brightly coloured blissful chaos.

In part, what makes Screens such a brilliant record is the complete lack of superfluousness. There isn't a single wasted note, drum hit or lyric across the entire 30 minutes of the album. 2010, Hot on Your Heels, I Can't Stop Being Foolish all dish out brain-exploding lessons in how modern pop can and should be constructed. To have three tracks such as this on any album would get it into the upper echelons of quality on almost any scale. The reality is that at this point, Screens is just warming up. What A Way, lumbers and jerks its way through the first half before hitting an impassable wall of sludgy, thumping and (believe it or not) gorgeous melody. Sweet Janines' impeccable crooning is matched only by it's flawless conjuring of the feelings of young love. Immediately after, the seemingly simple Telephone instantly demolishes those feelings with a tale of shattered hearts and expectations. Finally, the closer - Life Will Get Better Some Day - is a traditional rock ballad turned on it's head, stripped back to it's fundamental instincts much like a freshly recruited teenager in the armed forces, dishonorably discharged after an unfortunate incident involving hallucinogenic drugs, and then shipped to the jungles of Venezuela by it's parents to 'discover it's inner self'.

The beautiful yet unfathomable contradiction of this album is that after listening it becomes clear that this is the natural and obvious progression for the group to make, yet it's concepts could never have been imagined, calculated or stumbled upon by a million monkeys playing a billion instruments for a trillion years. The simple fact of the matter is that The Mint Chicks are making music so out of this world that our regular constructs and measurements of time and space simply do not apply. It's not just a matter of waiting until someone catches up, to hear music this good from anyone else, we'll have to wait until someone figures out how to bend matter and time to their own will. And despite the recent acceleration of technological discoveries, I have a feeling that won't be happening any time soon.

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The Mint Chicks


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I crave this album.

1 decade ago


Is this album really 0.8 better than Sound of Silver & In Rainbows?

1 decade ago


Not sure about that but its definitely 9.6 better than Kings of Leon last LP!

1 decade ago


Great review.

1 decade ago


This just gets better and better with each listen. Album of the year? Well, I guess so seeing as it did get a 10.0, but it should be in at least most peoples 'Top 10' lists come end of Two Oh Oh Nine.

1 decade ago


Really... a 10?

1 decade ago


Yes Zazza AKA Corgan. A 10.

1 decade ago

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