MICACHU AND THE SHAPES //

 Never (Rough Trade)

15/20

Micachu and the Shapes are not a band to try and pin down. With Mica Levi at the helm, the Shapes have crafted a solid aesthetic characterised by innovative instruments and pop gems hidden behind thick walls of phantom noise. Never is technically the third offering from this London three-piece, though the band’s last release was an unsettling collaboration with the London Sinfonietta. While this effort may be a tad more accessible, it is chock full of wild instrumentation and avant garde pop anthems that add weight to Mica’s position as a popstar of the freak scene. This is instantly recognizable in album opener Easy, a track rich in sonic textures and moods. Centering around a cheese grater guitar tone, Levi’s vocals dip into uneasy grunts and wails manipulated by a multitude of effect pedals. Sick follows in this vein, a steady driving groove laced with a solid pop chorus and a swooping array of background curiosities that blend into OK, a hazy track that temporarily breaks from lo-fi gunk into a guitar line that masks the cryptically innocent lyrics concealed below. But this record’s heart rests firmly in the terrain of the alternative, Low Dogg featuring a woozy hip hop beat that recalls the band’s love for DJ Screw’s ‘chopping and screwing’ technique, drenching the track in codeine-inspired slop.

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Words: Alex Hall

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