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Album Review

To get straight to the point, there's nothing on Genki Shock! that Shonen Knife haven't done before, but faulting a 20-year-old punk-pop band for not doing anything new is simply useless. The main question should be, can they really make an umpteenth album of simplistic riffs, straightforward rhythms, and silly lyrics worth listening to? The answer is favorable: Genki Shock! won't replace their early-'80s work, or even recent classics like Bananachips, but it's still got a fair share of choruses that will linger in your memory 30 years from now, and Naoko Yamano's voice remains full of infantile glee, allowing her to deliver lyrics on topics like Spam, anime, broccoli, the power of darkness, and giant kitties with the usual tongue-in-cheek sincerity. There are actually a couple of minor stylistic shifts on Genki Shock!, the first being a slight mellowing out as exhibited on "Under My Pillow" and "Forest Walk," which are simple soft pop rather than punk-pop and lose some impact on the account of that. "Forest Walk" is still addictive, though, and the band makes up for the occasional softer moment with its other stylistic shift, as heard in a couple of old-school hard rock numbers ("Queen of Darkness," "Giant Kitty") that sound oddly appropriate here, perhaps because their presence on a Shonen Knife album has an ironic effect per se. Or maybe because they are simply dead catchy: "Giant Kitty," the closing song on the album, is almost as dynamic as any classic Deep Purple track, and twice as hilarious. So on the whole, there's no desperate need to own Genki Shock! if you already know Shonen Knife, but there's no good reason not to listen to it, either.


Formed: 1981 in Osaka, Japan

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

During the early-'90s alternative wave, veteran Japanese indie rock trio Shonen Knife made major fans out of alt-rock's elite (Sonic Youth, Nirvana, and Redd Kross, among others) and built a solid worldwide cult following with their Ramones meets the Beatles brand of sticky-sweet punk-pop. Formed by Michie Nakatani (vocals, bass), Naoko Yamano (vocals, guitar), and Atsuko Yamano (drums), Shonen Knife started in December 1981 in their hometown of Osaka, Japan, where all three members were working...
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