Komeda – What Makes It Go?

(North Of No South Records / Pinnacle NONSCD65)
Author: Jyoti Mishra <jyoti@dial.pipex.com
Date: 1998/12/03
Forum: uk.music.alternative

Now, this is more like it. I’d never heard of them before but within the first two songs I was hooked on this album. The first track, ‘Binario’ starts with some Isan-y woodpecker coughs and then this crazy semi-slap bassline kicks in. Rhodri, this is definitely one track you can throw angular post-punk dancing shapes to. Stylistically, I suppose they sound most like a cross between very early Stereolab and the Cardigans. But I hate the Cardigans, which is weird cos I love this band. The songs are pretty much trad pop song forms but there’s a kind of Stereolabby fucking-around going on at the edges.

Second track, ‘It’s Alright Baby’ is simply a classic instant pop singalong. It sets your head nodding and you know the chorus the second time around. If you like any Michael Nesmith/Monkees, Beatles or Beach Boys, I can’t see you not loving this song. I’m listening to it now and it’s soooooo pop. Clipped rhythm guitar, modal piano countermelodies, woo-woos, – lovely. It reminds me of ‘The Girl That I Knew Somewhere’, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ and a very obscure Sedgewicks song.

Another beauty is ‘Our Hospitality’ which starts off with some sample-and-hold flurbling before the bass does a lovely corny slide in. The vocal is very Stereolabby, being a kissing cousin of that classic French smoocher ‘A Man And A Woman.’ It’s only 2.42 long and just when you think it’s gonna be da-bah-da-bah-dum all the way through there’s a crazy chromatic descent and some mad new lyrics. And all the tracks on this album are equally startling in different ways, combining ‘traditional’ instruments with electronic boogie-ing in a way that seems organic and meaningful. Rather than just bunging an old break under everything…

As you may know, apart from a few notables like Spearmint and Gorky’s, I’ve not liked any trad guitar-pop bands this year. Komeda are now definitely in that list as well and I’ll have to re-do my Top Ten. When it comes down to it, I do love a good singalong… This album is a great pop album for all the same reasons that Even As We Speak’s ‘Feral Pop Frenzy’ was: vigour, experimentation and, most of all choruses.