Happy & song

Missile Girl Scoot is one of those rare bands that aren’t afraid to act like clowns. Sure, they can rock out like hell but not at the expense of having fun.

Not that there’s been much to laugh about. In 2001, drummer Yosuke developed back problems which forced the group into a year and a half hiatus. The group staged a comeback in 2003, blitzing music shops with no fewer than five releases in the first quarter.

But Yosuke’s ill health flared up again, and Missile Girl Scoot announced its break-up after a final tour.

Perhaps Yosuke’s misfortune fueled the band to appreciate its chemistry. Missile Girl Scoot’s eponymously titled third album brims with the energy of its earliest work.

Fiesta!, the band’s 2000 major label debut, is still its creative high point, and Missile Girl Scoot, the album, takes a while to warm up.

One thing is certain: the band’s spirited performance ties the album together far better than its prophetically-titled predecesor, Wanderland.

Missile Girl Scoot pretty much sticks to rocking out, specifically to the heavy metal variety. Sure, there’s a ska diversion with the anthemic “Happy & Song”, and the single-minded drive of “INSYNC Legend” and “The Never Ending Story” (yes, the Limahl of Kajagoogoo song) teeters on the brink of emo.

But guitarist Gak lays it on thick, coming up with riffs as thorny as Keita’s angular bass lines.

On “Voice of Mind”, Gak overdubs at least three different guitar parts, creating a backdrop as interlocked as vocalists Junn and U-Rie, who alternate between rapping and singing with ease.

He does the same on “Proud of Life”, alternating between a metallic intro and a punk verse.

On previous albums, Junn and U-Rie would sometimes get lost in the mix, but on Missile Girl Scoot, they’re squarely front and center.

After a while, the album does become a bit homogenous, and the songs start bleeding into one another. “INSYNC Legend” and “Never Ending Story” could almost be interchangeable.

Still, it’s hard to miss the fun the band seemed to have while recording Missile Girl Scoot. How often does a listener find a rap-metal band willing to cover Cyndi Lauper’s “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough”?

Missile Girl Scoot may not be the band’s best album, but it’s definitely a good way to deliver a last hurrah.