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March 30, 2009 | by  | in Music |
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The Mint Chicks – Screens (Warner)

For a band that thrives on subverting everyone’s expectations of them, The Mint Chicks outdid themselves on Screens. Seriously. They lost a bassist, turned the keyboard interludes on Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! into the main melodies on most of the tracks, took cues from No Age, and put most of the vocals through a vocoder or a space-age blender. If the process of making this album were to be made into a children’s book, it would involve The Mint Chicks flying to the moon on ET’s bicycle, recording everything inside a colourful astrolabe, bringing it back down to earth, and killing everybody with high-powered lasers that fly from Paul Roper’s snare every time he smashes on it in the chorus of ‘I Can’t Stop Being Foolish’. It’s so fucking hard to explain how good this is, because to be honest, there’s not a lot I can think of that really sounds like this album. It’s weirdly fitting that their website boasts that they’re actually from the future, and their music rips off bands that don’t even exist yet. It’s not the future the Battles showed us in 2007 either, all mechanical polyrhythms and juggernaut robots: rather, Screens shows us a weird future fantasy, a sci-ficartoon world where a Tim Burton aesthetic paints the world. You know, all fucked-up rainbow-coloured robots and people running around with televisions on their heads. Weird shit bro.

Lyrically, it’s an album that deals with how digitalised and compressed everything around us is getting, in the worst sense. ‘Screens’, the track, is an ode to how much of our lives are lived through various screens, from Facebook to flip-phones. ‘Enemies’, besides having the best noise explosions this side of 9/11, does to the idea of friendship what Sylvester Stallone does to ethnic minorities in the Rambo films. Even an untraceable guest spot from Finn Andrews fails to taint the upbeat urgency of ‘Sweet Janine’. Last but not least, the distorted fuckery of closer ‘Life Will Get Better Some Day’ proves an H-bomb of an ending. Coming across like Imogen Heap put through a concentration camp, it’s all tortured vocal delivery and shimmering snare hits, fazing in through what sounds like a force-field generator gone awry.

It’s not all futures on Screens, though. There’s as much owed to The Cars and The Clean as there are the sounds of 2020—even if it’s not as prevalent. The keyboard line in 2010 is vintage Flying Nun, and the breakdown in ‘Red, White or Blue’ is a straight-up King Arthur dance party. These are fleeting moments though, in an album that shows a crazed rabbit-hole through which music can go. Let’s hope more bands follow them down it, just not all the way to Portland. There are few enough good local bands here as it is.

Final verdict: soooooo good. Past, present and future rolled into a Technicolor robot. Not a lot else I can say to praise this album, so the final words on it I’m going to leave to a wise young blogger on www.sleep500.com, who once said (a few days ago):

“I’m not going to write anything about Screens except that the boner that I have for The Mint Chicks is so much larger than my actual dick that whenever I think about it I feel sorry for my girlfriend.”

Touché.

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  1. I bloody love this review. Well done that man. Good timing too as I received my copy of the album this morning and was reading it along to my first listen.

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