Three years after the release of 2009’s Jewellery, Micachu & The Shapes are back with an album that builds on the innovative quality of their debut. From the opening clash of ‘Easy’, the sheer complexity of sound grabs the listener’s attention and holds it – right through the fourteen tracks – to the final bar of ‘Nowhere’. Never is every bit as hard to categorise as her first record – she describes her music as ‘pop’ but the sound has been completely warped and deconstructed, subverting everything you might expect of the genre.
The album begins with a discordant clamour of varying percussion – it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s being played – setting the precedence for an album that manages to create an underlying harmony from surface disunity, deftly creating complex layers that spiral across each other, creating an irrepressible energy. First single ‘OK’ is a percussion-filled, synth-heavy track that has a hazy, raw quality – although the track only clocks in at three and a half minutes, it has a meandering, dream-like quality reminiscent of Sixties psychedelia. This thread is picked up again on tracks like ‘Nothing’ and the record displays a remarkable elasticity of pace, from the relaxed tempo of the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it ‘Top Floor’ to the frenetic, electronic closer ‘Nowhere’.
Micachu, aka Mica Levi, has never been afraid to take risks – musically, she displays a confidence that seems unbelievable, given the fact that she’s still only 24. Classically trained, the daughter of two musicians, she’s currently the youngest ever artist-in-residence at London’s Southbank Centre. With a battalion of instruments ranging from a ‘Chu’ – an adapted guitar with a bass string – to a Hoover, the untrammelled originality of this album ensures that it will take no prisoners.