Micachu’s arrival in 2009 with her debut Jewellery was nothing if not original. It was the sound of a twenty-two year old turning up at the studio with homemade instruments, songs with skewed structures and a crate-load of attitude.
And while we’ve had Chopped and Screwed in the interim to remind us of their undeterred blueprint of experimentalism Never takes deliberate sidesteps to avoid repetition. So where the debut, however uncompromising, was a fairly clean production, Never is not. Smothered with reverb and noise (and anything else at hand) to blur the individual instruments, the pop ethic has been tackled to the ground with a paper bag forced over its head. We can still hear it, just muffled and a little disgruntled.
Micachu (real name Mica Levi) started her musical journey as DJ and MC on the grime and garage scene. This feels like a product from street level. It’s impressive and gutsy. Michachu and her Shapes could have opted for any producer anywhere in the world at this stage. Never, I hear them cry.
Opening with Easy, the noise instantly smashes the track. The restless and hopping rhythms that Micachu and The Shapes have claimed as their own form of polluted pop never look to collapse under the bewailing waves of sound. It’s a different story on Waste – an industrial riot with a frenetic attitude.
Tracks like Low Dogg drop a hip hop beat, yet the distorted guitars (that were acoustic back in 2009) and crunching synths don’t let it get too excited. Holiday meanwhile boasts a chorus you might actually start humming a few hours later. Yet it’s You Know that stands as the biggest token of pop, with manic refrains on a straight-up verse.
Micachu and The Shapes aren’t about to make life easy for you, but you know that already. But however they dress it up, rough it up or throw it up they’re always gonna oscillate wildly with some infectious rhythms and smart-arse rhymes.