Put Back to the Mono Kero! on your stereo, and it’s hard to believe that four years ago, eX-Girl didn’t know how to play their instruments.
A bit of that amateurism still lives on in the band’s music, but with producer-collaborator Hoppy Kamiyama guiding Chihiro, Kirilo and Fuzuki to more complex musical terrain, eX-Girl has become an unlikely candidate for bringing high art closer to pop art.
A far cry from the noise-fest of the Japanese trio’s debut Heppoku Pou, Back to the Mono Kero! shows eX-Girl at its tightest and wildest.
One moment, the Girls are growling, the next, they’re affecting operatic singing.
On such tracks as “Wipe Out”, “Gween-Kong-Gee” and “Zero Gravity”, they pound their instruments like mochi dough on a New Year’s Day. On other tracks, such as “Tozka”, “Solid States Kerok n’ Roll” and the group’s rousing cover of M’s “Pop Muzik”, they rock out with straight-forward riffs that never quite stay in line.
Compared to the band’s other albums — Back to the Mono Kero! is their fourth — this one has the most structured songs and the most likeable melodies.
Not to say eX-Girl has started writing typical songs — far from it.
Instead, eX-Girl performs with a sense of direction. They’re not just making noise for noise’s sake — there’s a method to all the madness, and it makes for an enjoyable, dischordant listen.
Take, for instance, the album’s opener, “Waving Scientist @ Frog King.” Chihiro’s dirty guitar work drives the song, but in between Fuzuki’s complex rhythms and the trio’s sweet harmonizing, the song becomes an epic piece. “Waving Scientist @ Frog King” makes “Bohmemian Rhapsody” look like “Chopsticks.”
With Back to the Mono Kero!, eX-Girl has definitely arrived. They’re not just a cute trio of Japanese women banging on instruments (condescending as that obviously sounds). They’re talented musicians giving punk music high aspirations.