School girl pop, indeed

When second guitarist Youngest Akkie left Mummy the Peepshow in 2001, band leader Maki decided to start from scratch.

Mummy the Peepshow continued as a trio, and Maki set out to write an entirely new set of songs, abandoning everything that’s been done before. (What?! No more “Jenny is feeling bad”?!) She even started her own label, Triangle Records.

School Girl Pop arrived in May 2002, two years after the band’s final album as a quartet. Has much changed in that time? No and yes.

Mummy still plays the kind of breezy three-minute punk-pop from before, and the album clocks in at a few minutes past half an hour. Short, simple, sweet — textbook pop.

In the studio, Maki has gone back to the two-guitar approach, overdubbing herself to make a bigger sound. But it’s easy to see how easily these songs can work with only one guitarist.

On first listen, School Girl Pop doesn’t sound distinct from previous Mummy albums, and in fact, nothing on the level of “Dear Big Tongue” or “Skip! Skip!” jumps out.

But after a few spins, signs of Maki’s growth as a songwriter start to appear.

Midway through “Hide-and-seek”, the song sounds like it ends, but instead, it breaks into a quiet middle section with a different beat and a bass solo.

“In a hospital” alternates between a driving rock beat and a wide-open waltz, while the lilting “Lady Wendy” sounds like something out of a French café.

Although School Girl Pop has more than its fair share of pop ditties — the title track, “Hello Stan”, “(Give me a) letter!” particularly stand out — certain tracks show Maki and company were thinking in terms of making an album instead of a collection of the last 12 songs they’ve written.

“Good morning!” and “Good bye” don’t offer much musically, but their demo tape sound quality and strategic placement offer a break in the album’s momentum. “Good night” is practically avant-garde for its minimalism.

School Girl Pop may not have Mummy the Peepshow’s most catchiest work, but it’s one of the band’s most cohesive albums to date.