Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Shonen Knife – Pop Tune

Apparently you can apply these reviews to every single one of their songs…


Iain Mew: If Saint Etienne’s “Tonight” recently approached the subject matter of a gig from the point of view of a fan, this is a gig from the point of view of a band, and it sounds like an amazing gig. “Pop Tune” is power pop about the power of pop, the music stripped bare in service of the message but loud and energising enough for it to be believable. Shonen Knife, it says, are powered up by playing and by hearing music, happier and (their actual word) bigger. There they are, ten foot tall heroes on stage, and what do they want to do with this superpower? Just to share it with their audience in the hope that you too can have a good time, since, you know, you’re already here and all, and the happiness of the reaction will bring them even more joy. It’s a profoundly generous statement, and not as straightforward or naive as it first appears. The wording of “put away something bad” is an acknowledgement that this is just a temporary thing, that the bad things people have to deal with will have to be taken back out again at some point. To get people to forget about them and to be happy for even a short time, though, that is worth it.

Anthony Easton: When I was in undergrad and I wanted to have fun with pop music but was too pretentious to actually admit to loving pop music, I spent a lot of time listening to Stereo Total and Shonen Knife. Then I grew up and realized that I could listen to and like almost anything with no guilt, and I no longer have to pretend to like bands in order to impress a demographic. So I can say this: Shonen Knife songs work at the end of a mixtape when they are about 90 seconds long — anything longer than that and I am annoyed.

Alex Ostroff: My first exposure to Shonen Knife was last October, when one of my girlfriends dragged me a couple blocks north of my apartment to see them play a tiny venue, and it was fun. Uncomplicated, enjoyable, dancing and smiling and having fun. Which is why I kind of feel like the Grinch now. In my headphones this is pleasant and nice but nothing astounding, but I know that if I saw them play this live, I would be having too much fun to contemplate how good it is.

Jer Fairall: Spirited, Ramones-y, and about a minute too long.

Alfred Soto: Raspberries subject, Go Go’s harmonies, Ramones chords. For a lot of bands this combination, assembled to address this subject, never gets old. 

Jonathan Bradley: I like a Ramones retread as much as anyone (i.e. I’m not opposed on principle to Shonen Knife) but this is a particularly thin and under-developed take on the form. The worst part is the key change; it suggests “Pop Tune” wasn’t merely tossed off, but the product of some actual thought.

Brad Shoup: In not caring for this sunny slice of pop-punk — key change and all — I feel like I’m burying a good friend’s birthday gift in the closet. But I’ve already got this in my size.

Katherine St Asaph: Artist families may rise and fall, songwriting empires may form and shatter, but Shonen Knife will always remain exactly the same. They’ll be dismissed as the same sort of novelty, too, but I prefer to smile and listen for details, like how the drums sound like a thresher, or those just-pretty-enough backing vocals that come in halfway through.

Jonathan Bogart: They’ve only ever had the one song, but it’s still good.

6 Responses to “Shonen Knife – Pop Tune”

  1. Prior to this, I’d only heard 3 Shonen Knife songs: their cover of “Top of the World” (good), “Banana Chips” (ridiculously AMAZINGLY AWESOME) and “E.S.P.” (dreadful), and then nothing for 10+ years.

    This is OK, but it’s no “Banana Chips”.

  2. “Space Christmas” is on heavy rotation every December. (As is the Ramones’ counterpart.)

  3. While I love darker material, not all music should have to be serious or edgy to be enjoyed. I find this single a refreshing break from the drivel looped incessantly on the radio. Shonen Knife is an excellent trio, and while some don’t consider them “high art,” whatever. They’ve always been about having fun, which is something this world’s sadly lacking.

  4. You have literally not responded to a single thing written by any reviewer here.

  5. stunning lack of awareness for ase’s blurb too

  6. thank you zach