eX-Girl are weird. Kirilo (bass), Fuzuki (drums) and Chihiro (guitar) make up what can only be described as the world's first alternative Japanese cartoon pop band. As well as defining this altjapcarpop-core, eX-Girl go on to foster one of the most bizarre band-related obsessions fathomable – they're not politically motivated, they don't use their gender to sell records (cough cough Kittie, L7, The Donnas etc.), they're certainly not junkies… no, eX-Girl just like frogs.
One frog, three frogs, five frogs, six frogs, eight frogs, (kero kero kero) eleven, fifteen, twenty, thirty eight, (no no) forty, sixty, eighty, a hundred, a thousand… MANY, MANY, MANY FROGS!
Follow that with a chorus of daa-da-ba-daba-da-baba (EIGHT times) and you get an idea of what eX-Girl sound like. Album opener Disco 3000, meanwhile, after a minute-long instrumental intro worthy even of The Melvins, entangles catchy guitar riffs with the kind of keyboard effects any pre-Gameboy console would be proud to have as its theme tune. The result is a musical car crash – a prolonged din of screeching, wailing and metallic clattering. Soothing, it isn't. The type of noise that turns migraine-sufferers into suicidal gun-wielding maniacs, it is.
One minute they're the Powerpuff Girls on a caffeine-binge, the next they're Tibetan monks, chanting hypnotically over the mesmerizing drumbeats of Zozoi. It’s this persistent shifting between genres, from punk to pop to funk to post-rock, that makes eX-Girl so entertaining. Their music is as eclectic as Nojahoda's, and their image as wacky as any of Mike Patton's projects (it's not surprisingly, hence, that their UK debut last year was as the support band for Fantomas).
Kero Kero (English translation: 'Ribbet Ribbet') is one of the most original Japanese exports since Akira, and I absolutely love it, which is why its a damn shame that its just so unbearable. The problem is that, rather than combining their various musical influences to create their own, unique sound, eX-Girl simply layer genre after genre on top of each other. The violent ensemble of styles then goes on to erupt in an all-out war on your eardrums, apparently adopting the view that whichever is loudest will surface the victor. Diva, for example, is one of the many songs that can't make up its mind which direction it wants to go in. The bass says hardcore, the vocals say pop, and the drums just do their best to drop quietly into the background.
eX-Girl are fantastic musicians – they just don't sound very good. File under 'irritating brilliance'.
6Martin Rivers's Score