Magnum opus

There was always something suspicious about Buffalo Daughter’s critics’ darling status in the States.

When the trio was first introduced to American audiences, Shonen Knife and Pizzicato Five had just recently wedged its way into hipster consciousness by being cute, quirky and Japanese.

American label heads go with what’s familiar, and Buffalo Daughter’s mix of indie rock swagger with sampling acumen must have seemed like a really cool way to ride the coattails of P5 and Shonen Knife — at the same time.

New Rock, Buffalo Daughter’s 1998 album on Grand Royal, was certainly an interesting work, but was it really a magnum opus indie media outlets made it out to be?

As it turns out, no, it wasn’t.

After New Rock, Buffalo Daughter released a few remix discs but no new material. In that time, the Beastie Boys folded Grand Royal. In 2001, the trio re-emerged with I, and everything that made Buffalo Daughter mildly interesting turned into a driving creative force.

This time around, Buffalo Daughter has incorporated more traditional songwriting elements into its lush sonic canvas.

Before, the band was content to sprinkle minimal lyrics amid dissonant guitar riffs and analog blips and bleeps. On I, they’ve added verses, choruses and melodies to that palette.

“Discotheque du Paradis” could have just remained a typical BD song by leaving out words all together, but SuGar Yoshinaga graces the song’s “Copa Cabana” rhythm with a sweet vocal.

Although “Robot Sings” and “Five Minutes” contain the kind of lyrical sparseness of New Rock, the songs are driven by entire verses, not just one-liners and non-sequitirs.

“Earth Punk Rockers” layers multiple tracks of vocals over ominous synthesizer effects and a menancing guitar lick, while “Volcanic Girl” calls to mind the straight-ahead rock of Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her. Hands down, they’re the toughest songs on the album.

I also feels like more of an epic, with interludes such as “I Know” and “28 Nuts” making obtuse segues. Two-second gaps are in incredibly short supply here.

By the time “A Completely Identical Dream” wraps the entire album up, skeptics get the impression Buffalo Daughter are certainly more than they initially let on.

And fans will definitely feel the group has grown incredibly since the last time they were around.

Welcome back.