Posted on May 24th, 2011 (11:00 am) by Bradley Hartsell

2009’s Jewellery is one of my most beloved albums — the diamond in the rough, the personal treasure no one else really knew. When I first heard Jewellery, I naturally though, “what the fuck is this?” It was alien music. For whatever reason, I re-listened to it and it began to reveal itself to me. Jewellery excelled from its off-the-wall, avant-garde, acoustic/pop/dance nature, seemingly haphazardly sewn together until you spend proper time with it. “Turn Me Well” is beautifully done, and because Micachu is who she is, a vacuum cleaner plays a significant role in the melody of the song. Yep, a sweet psyche-pop song with a vacuum cleaner in it, like the weirdest, most experimental version of Bee Thousand-era Guided by Voices.

Chopped & Screwed is the unofficial follow-up live album, accompanied by The London Sinfonietta. The sugar-rush of hooks from Jewellery are noticeably gone. Tempos are slowed to a sludge. The orchestra warbles deep down in the pit of strings, infinitely darker than anything The Shapes did on the last album. The melodic sense is still there, and identifiable as Micachu, but it’s as though the melody has gotten hammered, staggered outside at midnight, and stumbled down alleyways until sunrise. Because she is so good at what she does, Mica Levi can arrange an album that’s a total 180 from her last, and still make it sound like her own.

“Everything” is easily the best song, with the tempo sped up and Mica actively seizing a hook. The orchestra races against each other, sounding like a movie chase scene. And in a classic Micachu moment, the chorus is aided by repetitive “punches” in the rhythm, operating with two distinct ranges, starting high and going low. “Low Dogg” finds Micachu excelling at this new sludge-aesthetic, as Mica delivers another quality hook, not hiding behind the behemoth orchestra. Ultimately, this is a two-song album, with the rest being atmospheric filler. The London Sinfonietta is outstanding, working with Mica’ avant-garde palate, but most of this album is too dark to sink in. At no point does Chopped & Screwed enter an inch of negative territory, but outside of “Everything” and “Low Dogg,” there’s just a lot of passive atmosphere that doesn’t actively engage you. Nevertheless, cheers to Micachu & The Shapes.

Track List:
1. State of New York
2. Unlucky
3. Everything
4. Average
5. Freaks
6. Medicine Drank
7. Low Dogg
8. Fall
9. Not So Sure

Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

66 / 100
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