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If you’re still waiting for Sonic Youth to deliver a decent follow-up to Daydream Nation, check out Number Girl to pass the time.
The Japanese quartet plays two kinds of tempo (fast, faster) and two kinds of volume (loud, louder). And while Number Girl busily rocks out, pushing the amp volume to 11, the band doesn’t sacrifice its hooks — however buried they are under a barrage of guitars and thunderous drums.
Number Girl’s 1999 major label debut, School Girl Distortional Addict, isn’t as harmonically complex as SY’s seminal opus, but the album does share Daydream Nation’s sense of sonic proportion. Guitarists Mukai Shutoku and Tabuchi Hisako know how to pack a wallop with their six-string interchange.
The album also perfectly captures the essence of Number Girl’s live performance, right down to vocalist Mukai’s futile attempt to sing over his bandmates. On some tracks, listeners can hardly hear him. And yet, his larynx-unfriendly howl is one of the most arresting musical sounds to come out of a pair of lungs.
Number Girl precariously balances aggressive, noisy early punk rock with a clear sense of melody. It’s a winning combination that’s as cathartic as it is addictive.
By the way, don’t forget to bring a pair of earplugs if you attend a Number Girl show — your ears will thank you later.