Album Review

Bad Buzz EP

Bad Buzz EP

by The Mint Chicks


7 / 10
30th March 2010

Reviewed by Paul Gallagher


I've always held a marked level of respect for the Mint Chicks ever since I first picked up my copy of Octagon, Octagon, Octagon at a show in some seedy little bar in downtown Auckland in 2003. Seasons and years have come and gone since then, with the departure and reintegration of Michael Logie, a spell or two in rubbing shoulders in Portland, a cheeky half dozen New Zealand Music Awards under their belts to go with their six major physical releases and limited edition oddities. And here they are again, testing the waters with a newer approach having nursed commercial success with Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! (2006) and Screens (2009) only to turn around and simply dump Warner Music.

 

Much lauded in the past for their new-Buzzcocks style, the Mint Chicks have been changing gears and shifting inspiration in recent releases. While the majority of the rest of the world are gazing longingly at the ripe richness that synth-oriented 1980s back catalogues have to offer, the Mint Chicks may have searching elsewhere - Bad Buzz EP harks respectfully back to the glory days of the best of mid-1990s Brit Pop. Seriously, there are deep veins of Supergrass or even Elastica within all these four tracks.

 

Evocative, as every Mint Chicks release typically is, there is a significant level of nostalgia here. Whether singing about love and love lost as with Say Goodbye or drug-addled sex sold in the title track Bad Buzz, there's a reflective attitude of almost harking-back, something that's been rarely evident in a band that's previously chosen to exist more in the now. It's an almost romantically ironic take on the milieau of the changing modernism and naval gazing that was seen fifteen-to-twenty years ago. Pill popping prostitution and Eastern philosophy-riddled social echelons are targeted squarely - it's a surprise that the band hasn't based itself in the greater Manchestor or London area rather that Oregon, this release is just so time-synced with the England of that period. ABC Reharmonised falls somewhat flat as a form of needless luxury, a reforming of a primary school nursery rhyme that we're no doubt all able to recall. But it does add to the reminiscence. The closer, You've Got Spray Paint In Your Third Eye, falls as near as any of the tracks on this EP do to the band's earlier work - building with drum staccato,  but then breaking into pop riffs and then a noisy finish to end with blips.

 

Released digitally as MP3s via the internet and within a band-art adorned USB stick, the Mint Chicks have shied away from the more traditional forms of the release - while it may rub the noses of labels and music retailers, there's no compact disc anywhere in sight. The tracks are refreshing, thought-provoking and above all else infectiously fun to listen to. In a world currently jam packed with the drab synths of chillwave and dark noise distortion, the Mint Chicks have again delivered us something  intelligent to enjoy from somewhere from where we can't quite identify - and I for one like it a lot.

 



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