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Instores are a lovely way of getting all intimate with your current musical squeeze, even if they can often be a bit lacking, atmosphere-wise. This isn’t always true, of course, and so Micachu & The Shapes prove.
Starting with debut album Jewellery's opener, 'Vulture', Mica Levi’s homemade Chu guitar clashes discordantly with ghostly synth lines and the clattering, ambitiously ramshackle percussion. This savage, experimental take on pop music is both concise and abrasive, and by the end of its three minutes she has the audience dumbstruck.
It’s difficult to describe Micachu's electro alchemy without either making it sound awkward and unpalatable or pretentious in the extreme. This probablt has a lot to do with people’s preconceptions of experimentation in pop music, but whatever the case, Micachu’s live show brings to the fore the addictive energy and sense of melodic fun frothing from her wonderful music. Set closer 'Floor' has Mica and Raisa Khan exchanging syncopated guitar scratchings, somehow rhythmic and bell-like at the same time. This chemistry is evident throughout with little looks, massive grins and good-humoured false starts.
Not every mistake is so endearing: perhaps the hardest song to stomach, 'Guts', is a step too far in Mica’s repertoire, a horrendously detuned acoustic strum, slow, minimal without any semblance of a tune. Even here though, it at least benefits from the added texture of Mica’s screaming.
And it's but a minor blip in the set; from the vacuum antics of self-confessed “gimmick” song 'Hardcore', to the lilting, twangy 'Ship' and the chiptune-esque splatterings of 'Turn Me Well', the overwhelming danceability of the songs just about matches the humming resonance of the melodies themselves.
Somehow, ANY reaction to Micachu’s art seems appropriate – from mouth agape staring to wild, pink-haired flailing, to older gentlemen chanting her words back at her; this music seems to appeal to, or at least attract, a bewildering selection of clientele.
Maybe it is a strange gig, but in the end all that matters is that Levi has been given a platform to perform this scratch-built music – instruments built for the purpose of making exquisite, joyous songs, an approach which belies a classical background. We soon forget there are racks of vinyl and CDs behind us, focussing instead upon the band’s every movement and sound. You get the impression it's probably more than she expected to achieve, but it's a fraction of what she’s capable of creating.
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