If the Go-Go’s taught us anything, it’s that punk can be dressed up in bubblegum pop.
It’s a lesson noodles have inverted — the Yokohama-based band dresses bubblegum pop to be punk.
Or rather, post-punk — noodles is a bit more polished than its like-minded countryfolk in Shonen Knife and Mummy the Peepshow.
On 2003’s God Cable, any number of tracks could have been recast in the mold of a Phil Spector production and lose little of its character. (Although it would be kind of neat to hear Ronnie Spector singing in Japanese.)
Perhaps the most likely candidate is “Culture” — the chorus alone has “girl group” written all over it. “Come Here” comes in at a close second — replace the entire band with one of Spector’s mini symphonies, and it becomes a time warp.
The past has a strong influence on God Cable.
“Sweeper” could almost be mistaken for knock-off Beatles, while “Classic Chord Book” might sound familiar to Brian Wilson.
But noodles aren’t beholden to it.
“Hikari no Cho” starts off with a dissonant riff that would make listeners in the ’60s squeamish. And “She, her” soaks in the sludgey guitars of the early ’90s. (Yeah, I could have used the word “grunge”.)
The band’s fuzzy sound balances playfulness with strength, and God Cable collects a set of very serviceable tunes.
But after a while, the album becomes homogenous. The chugging power chords appear track after track, and the songs get indistinguishable toward the end.
“Silent Apple” attempts to break up the flow with a different rhythm and feel, but it’s not quite enough.
noodles does a fine job of bridging past and present, and on the whole, God Cable demonstrates that ability well.