The entirety of Astral Astronauts follows the same template, if it is possible to describe the music as having a template. Every manner of electronic sound effect and pop genre, cheap synthesizer tone and rock guitar is thrown into a lidless blender with the puree button already on, and the resulting chaos sprays musical amalgams all over the room. Punk cuts through psychedelia. Space-age bachelor pad weirdness mates with alien space rock. Drum'n'bass reinterpretations of early B-52's and musical contemporary Cornelius explode with glorious, anthemic avant-pop hooks shouted with the sugary lilt of Cibo Matto on top of Johnny Rivers secret-agent riffs and Duane Eddy twang. Esteemed by such colleagues as Buffalo Daughter, Fantastic Plastic Machine, and Pizzicato Five (all with whom they had previously collaborated), Tokyo-formed but New York-based Spoozys offer little in the way of bold innovation on its debut domestic full-length but plenty of wonderful experimentation with sound that literally invents amalgams that have not previously existed.
The title track that opens the album, for instance, chugs along on jungle rhythms and classic rock guitars, but it throws in the sunny feel of surf music, new wave quirkiness, in-your-face punk attitude, and school-spirit chants as well, all in service of a shot-up pop tune loaded with breezy insouciance and hyperactive good cheer. The remainder of the album is just as skewed and joyful. The band dresses itself up as a 21st century Japanese sci-fi Devo on "Russian UFO" while "Highway-Hypnosis" tips its hat to the avant-hard synthesizer textures of Add N to X, but it turns the electronic edge into a sing-along melody in an ocean of psychedelic sound that nevertheless hints at cheesy garage rock textures. For the ultimate in cheese, "Super Discoman" tackles house music beats and swank disco swing with a bombardment of µ-Ziq-style freaky sound effects, the equivalent of a UFO landing in Studio 54 and the party of extraterrestrials (human and non-human alike) that ensues. It is gloriously swank and silly, but endlessly danceable and carefree. The instrumental "A-I" is the only complete misstep. The band slows the pace down to 100 BPMs and loads on the industrial grind and corny hair metal guitar. The song is a fly in the soup of the album. Otherwise, it is a whiplash blast of pure infectious adrenaline. There is nothing subtle about Astral Astronauts. The music is as brash and tactless as punk ever was, only Spoozys have bushels full of whimsy and a typically Tokyo-bred ear for spitting back all the most exuberant aspects of Western pop in ridiculously creative ways.
It inspires nothing but gleeful head bobbing. It may ultimately be empty calories, but even that is hard to figure out because most of the lyrics (sung in English) are hard to pick out of the cacophony -- but it is endlessly intriguing on a sonic level alone, a maze of sound that is always brilliant fun.
|How Do We Communicate?||Spoozys||2:35|
|Tiny Head Creatures||Spoozys||3:41|
|Kuuki Sutte Hakudake||Spoozys||3:03|
|A-I (Artificial Intelligence)||Spoozys||5:15|
|Then and Now||Spoozys||2:16|
|Super Discoman 2||Spoozys||4:10|
|Guitar and Other Machines (Live in the Earth)||Spoozys||2:58|