The Mint Chicks – Screens

2017 April 3
The Mint Chicks - Screens

The Mint Chicks - Screens

Screens, the third and latest full-length record from Portland-based New Zealand “troublegum” popsters The Mint Chicks, treads similar ground to previous releases. That is – it changes the rules once again.

The last album, 2007’s critically-lauded Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! carved a niche in the NZ music hall of fame, whilst providing a useful springboard for their surprising decision to re-locate to the US. Losing their bassist in the process was another fly in the ointment, but the remaining three members have forged on.

Where C?Y!D?N! surged through like a juggernaut, all pounding drums and amps turned up to eleven, Screens coats you from head to toe like an explosion at a paint factory.

Clocking in at a pleasingly symmetrical 30:03, this is by no means an epic. It would be easy to say Screens breathes new life into somehow familiar Beatles-esque melodies, and borrows from the psychedelia of the 1960s, but there’s something else at play here. The inane sheen and videogame tinniness occasionally grate, but the driving, pulsing synth and lo-fi top coat create a sort of ethereal sound, making it feel like a rock record from the future, as predicted in the past.

But when they’re not sounding saccharine and hyperactive, The Mint Chicks still know how to mine a vein of something altogether more sinister. In the final tracks – the hypnotic, battle-ready Enemies and album standout Life Will Get Better Some Day – the band have created the hold music of some dark, fiendish organisation. Satan’s muzak.

Life… sounds like Laurie Anderson’s haunting classic O Superman, somehow infused with the previous album’s penchant for percussion. As the track – and album – plays out, the listener is left with a cold, colourless silhouette of the half hour that preceded it. Having whizzed past, the only suitable action to take is to play the record again. And you will. This is an addictive, contradictory album.

Screens sounds like nothing the band have ever done before, and yet simultaneously it is quintessentially The Mint Chicks.

Because of this, some existing fans may be left feeling cold and confused, but the Mint Chicks have always sounded as though they know exactly where they want to be. Their boldness on Screens is testament to this. Where they go next, however, is something not even they can predict.

Paul Capewell

Have a look at the video to the first single, I Can’t Stop Being Foolish below. To hear more tracks from the album, head to http://www.themintchicks.com/

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