The Mae Shi – HLLLYH

I saw the Mae Shi for the first time just a few weeks ago at ATP: the Fans Strike Back. A review of that whole festival is forthcoming (um, eventually) but suffice to say that I didn’t have any expectations except that they put on a great live show. They did, it was fun, and during one song the thought “this is the best thing I’ve ever heard” crossed my mind. And yes, I was drunk, but you don’t often think so grandly even then.

HLLLYH is a record that I’m really quite ambivalent about. On the one hand, it’s tremendous fun and can’t be mistaken for anything else out there right now. On the other hand it doesn’t quite live up to their tumultuous live show, and there’s plenty more you can criticise even if you’ve not experienced that pleasure.

Like what? Well, I’m not yet convinced that this album isn’t a flash in the pan – you love it for a few months and then shelve it for years. The songs are very immediate which may mean they lack the substance to continue rewarding repeat listens – although it does mean that they’re gloriously fun from the get-go. And loving an album for just a few months is no bad thing.

Quite a lot of the tunes on HLLLYH also feel a bit like the intros to longer songs. I’ve not heard any earlier Mae Shi records but I’ve heard of them, and it sounds like this record is a step forward from their past technique of peppering hundreds of tiny riffs all over cassettes in a frenetic ejaculation of musical ideas. They’re not quite ready for the dreary business of writing complete songs yet, but they’re inching closer. And in all honesty, is there anything that wrong with keeping songs short and simple before moving on to something new? The Minutemen did it and they’re one of the most beloved and respected bands in punk rock – rightfully so.

I’m sure you’re picking up on my ambivalence now, right? So yeah, I like this album a great deal, but there’s an ongoing arms race between my conflicting opinions. I guess I’ll just have to keep listening until one up and nukes the other.

Oh hell, I just realised I’ve not said anything about the music itself. Okay, it’s a grab-bag of synths and hardcore punk, yelping and vocoder, beats and riffs, relentlessly upbeat and ferociously unique… for the ultimate in lazy comparisons its Blood Brothers crossed with Crystal Castles with half the depth and twice the fun. Download these two tracks and if you like them, go see the band live or buy their record. Not everything has to be complicated.

The Mae Shi – Run To Your Grave MP3
The Mae Shi – Young Marks MP3

Official site | MySpace | Team Shi Records | Moshi Moshi Records

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