V113 - third album of a fantastic run of three from NZ's best... Ruban now in UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA. It is with undeniable pleasure Valve makes available in Australia the latest album by New Zealadnï¿½s Mint Chicks. With no uncertainty I can honestly say THE MINT CHICKS are my all-time favourite New Zealand band... and I have to say that is a big call given my love for KING LOSER, THE TALL DWARFS, THE CHILLS, BAILTER SPACE and even early SPLIT ENZ among others. Out of the static comes new album SCREENS = sheer f**king brilliance!
THE MINT CHICKS ï¿½a Bio (of sorts)
The first Mint Chicks bio distributed was for F**k The Golden Youth, the jaw-droppingly astonishing debut album the band served up in 2004. It served none of the usual bio purposes at all. Instead, it seemed to be a slightly-crazed communiquï¿½ from a fringe group with indeterminate goals, containing the kind of muddled leaps and erratic proclamations familiar from scribbled notes reproduced in books about cults or serial killers. Perhaps thatï¿½s exactly what the source of the bio was, transposed and presented with a Flying Nun letterhead as some sort of odd representation of whoever it was opposing the Golden Youth of the albumï¿½s title. Maybe it was some kind of attempt to articulate the ragged pop melodies and hyper-kinetic energy that the album was characterized by, which is something particularly hard to convey without actually hearing it. Possibly, it was something to do with having the word ï¿½f**kï¿½ in an album title, usually the domain of committed politico-types. Really, who has any idea what it meant -- but most agree that the album is one of the finest debut releases in New Zealandï¿½s musical history, one that will be discovered and rediscovered for many years to come. Still, it is quite conceivable that a rather different piece of paper could have been sent out, stating only three things. ï¿½Written by the Nielson Brothers and performed by The Mint Chicksï¿½; ï¿½This record is our idea of fun pop musicï¿½; and ï¿½Everything on this album is EXACTLY the way you hear itï¿½. Thatï¿½s it in a nutshell, and in fact would be entirely suitable for any release in the consistently-engrossing Mint Chicks catalogue, from the initial excitement of the EPs Octagon Octagon Octagon and Anti Tiger, their handful of 7ï¿½ singles, the multi-award winning Crazy? Yes! Dumb? Noï¿½ right up to (and including) their brand new album, Screens. And as much as we could concentrate on The Mint Chicksï¿½ past accomplishments and deserved success, Screens takes us somewhere else entirely. When the first hints of what The Mint Chicks were recording in their new home-base of Portland, Oregon, started creeping out -- tunes like ï¿½Enemiesï¿½, ï¿½Life Will Get Better Some Dayï¿½ and ï¿½What A Wayï¿½ -- it was immediately apparent that The Mint Chicks had taken another inadvertent creative leap, one that they are probably too focussed or too modest to realize. When pressed, Ruban Nielson mentioned that he had figured out that they were making ï¿½troublegumï¿½ music -- technicolour, vibrant pop with welcoming melodic thrills and an emotive heart, yet nonetheless containing aspects and themes which could be considered either antisocial, keenly-intelligent, or real, depending on your perspective. Itï¿½s the kind of inclusive music thatï¿½s made to be enjoyed, yet doesnï¿½t underestimate an audienceï¿½s intelligence or short-change anybody by tempering creativity with commercial compromises. The Mint Chicks have already proven it works beyond any vague pop cultural theorising: Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! -- grand-slam winner of five 2007 New Zealand Music Awards, and an additional six bNet awards -- is certainly troublegum by any other name. And now Screens -- even brighter, more stimulating, further in and way farther out, tightly-packed with multiple bubblegum hooks. Or should that be ï¿½barbsï¿½? Take the first single ï¿½I Canï¿½t Stop Being Foolishï¿½, a song which may be about being punished for your true nature, and a kid thinking about his dad being sent to jail and pondering his own future, knowing that he's inherited all of his father's vices. Musically though ï¿½ a candy party! Then thereï¿½s the aforementioned ï¿½Life Will Get Better Some Dayï¿½, impressive enough as a bNet hit late last year, but in itï¿½s final Screens glory with the calm vocodered plea nestled amidst some mightily-ringing percussive clangs, itï¿½s the difference between a hand-stencilled sign and glorious neon, or the spectral and the Spectoral. Now, an existential crisis takes on the characteristics of a great spiritual truth, further highlighting the acceptance of isolation expressed by the songï¿½s narrator and transforming loneliness into a uniting sense of jubilation. In fact, all of Screens is exuberantly-constructed and arranged. Produced by The Nielson Brothers and Jacob Portrait, it necessitated mixing in four different studios to exactly capture the elusive sounds swirling about the Mint Chicks imaginations and make them tangible. Work took place in The Dandy Warholsï¿½ Odditorium studio; two other Portland studios with proven track records -- Audible Alchemy (Modest Mouse) and Supernatural (The Shins); and the Orewa studio of award-winning producer Chris Nielson. If anything, the refining of The Mint Chicksï¿½ sound is entirely in keeping with the escalating might of the
Nielson/Nielson songwriting force. Having never been distracted by external trends or flavour-of-the-moment sounds, Kody and Ruban Nielson have only ever had to keep up with each other; and in the nine years since their collaboration began, the pair have been driven to develop one of the most distinct and original styles in New Zealand post-everything popular music. With their third album Screens, the full picture created by The Mint Chicks is now becoming recognisable. Never lacking in ambition or foresight, itï¿½s nothing less than the sound of a band creating their own future.
THE MINT CHICKS:
Thatï¿½s not to say it doesnï¿½t sound like The Mint Chicks, because thereï¿½s definitely only one band on earth (specific location irrelevant) who could have made this, but it has the energy and pure new sound of a band spewing out a lifetimeï¿½s worth of ideas into their first album. (Groove Guide)
Screensï¿½ is the sound of a band swallowed by video game playing, Guitar Hero waving robots. At all times sounding like everything and nothing before them, itï¿½s another bold statement that will have fans rejoicing. (NZ Musician)
Screens is addictive and deliciously obnoxious. (NZ Herald)
SCREENS by MINT CHICKS out now through Valve/MGM in Australia!
Features HOT ON YOUR HEELS, I CANï¿½T STOP BEING FOOLISH, RED WHITE OR BLUE, and SWEET JANINE!