I rip open at least one stuffed envelope a day, so it takes quite a bit to immediately grab my attention. The submission from Micachu and the Shapes does just that for two reasons. First, “Jewelry” is misspelled and I’m wondering why. Second, my kids are, much to my dismay, Pokemon addicts and I’m wondering if Micachu is some new cutesy plastic creature that I’ll be stepping on in the early hours when the house is dark.
After reading and listening, I still don’t know the answer to the first question, but I’m clear on the second. Micachu and the Shapes are an East London band that fall somewhere between M.I.A., Lily Allen, Hot Chip, and Tegan & Sara. And yes, that’s a wide area.
Mica Levi is a 21-year-old DJ and songwriter who makes electronic-based soft hip-hop/pop. What makes her unique is that her layered blending is neither forced nor busy—each song is full and complex, but never overdone. I’ve read that she wrote a symphony that was actually performed by The Royal Philharmonic, and I’m not surprised. In fact, if I were to criticize anything about “Jewellery” it would be that the songs stop and start too quickly, giving the record the feel of an unfinished mixtape, where many of them have beats that are too thick to understand in less than three minutes. A particular favorite of mine is “Just in Case,” which does what The Go! Team never could for me: It takes a chant, goes low/loud/low/loud, and inserts a mechanical break in the middle, but remains articulate. It gets grimey without getting muddy. Micachu clearly has a talent behind the boards.
The band utilizes a series of bizarre instruments like a xylophone made of light bulbs, vacuum cleaners, and assorted stringed things (like a guitar played with a hammer), which gives them a sound all their own. Does this make for something you’d want to hear all the time? Of course not. But when you have the time and want to be surrounded by sounds you’ve never heard, but which somehow manage to maintain pop sense, this is the album you should check out.