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Sadistic Mika Band - Hot! Menu CD (album) cover


Sadistic Mika Band


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2.26 | 4 ratings

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2 stars The third and final SMB studio album sounds like it was assembled under duress, and with good reason. The band was in the process of imploding after lead singer Mika Kato began an extramarital affair with producer Chris Thomas (who she later married). Add to that the slow erosion of their musical identity after relocating from Japan to London, and it's little wonder the results of this session were so inconsistent.

But even without all the distractions the band would have been doomed by such an anemic effort: thirty-five (thankfully) brief minutes of pallid soft rock, lacking the sly energetic imitation of their self-titled first album and the galvanized intensity of their previous "Kurofune". The exceptions are the two contrasting highlights book-ending the album, beginning with "Time to Noodle", arguably the strongest single piece of music in the abbreviated SMB catalogue (and notably an instrumental track). Despite its total lack of Asian character the music has a powerful yet playful momentum, building to a speed-freak Fusion 'chorus" not unlike an injection of pure adrenalin.

On the polar opposite end of the musical spectrum is the oddball album closer "Tokyo Sunrise", a totally different experience but equally effective in a dreamy, drugged out sort of way. The hazy tropical atmosphere and weird stoned vocals (is that Mika snoring over the fade-out?) offer an ideal antidote to the uninspired songwriting elsewhere on the album, reaching its aesthetic nadir in the too-accurately titled "Style Is Changing", followed by the embarrassment of "Funkee Mahjong". The former is a bit of a Doobie Brothers ripoff; the latter presents the worst sort of obsequious musical kowtow, almost a sell-out of the band's native Japanese heritage, which might have worked if it had been intended as satire.

Things fell apart pretty quickly after the album was released. The surviving band members, sans Mika, would retreat to the Far East and attempt a comeback as The Sadistics, but the new group's first album would leave no impression whatsoever on this listener, although I wouldn't mind a belated second listen. "Hot! Menu" ("Hot! Mess" would have been a better title) is essential to any complete picture of this unique band, but unlike their two earlier albums this one isn't a keeper.

Neu!mann | 2/5 |


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