5 out of 5
Produced by: (?)
Man, Super Junky Monkey burned so bright during their brief time before lead singer Mutsumi’s suicide, reminding me – rather darkly, I suppose – of the trajectory of Brainiac, with the group starting in a more identifiable format and then shaping up into something brash and unique and exciting, album by album. SJM is undeniably less “weird” than Brainiac, but their last release before Mutsumi’s passing – Super Junky Alien – is a powerhouse of passion and energy, fusing all their funk-rockin’ power into an all-hands-on blast that’s excised of the more wandering elements of their previous releases.
The “concept” of it scoring the various stages to an imaginary RPG game may not extend, aurally, beyond its sound effects, but it lends the music a cohesiveness and sense of focus throughout, from the epic buildup of the opening title track through the punky R-P-G, the chanting thrashy post-rock of I Got the Third, and the amped up variants of these styles on the disc’s back half.
Production on the album is ridiculous, with percussion crystal clear and the low-end thump of drums and the churning guitar never overwhelming each other, all of it oozing together with Mutsumi’s (and the group’s) vocals for five brilliant tracks, stitched together by some video gamey interludes. The sprawling 9-minute ‘Seven’ closes out the album proper – a patient, guitar-led build up and breakdown that would work as a score for a multi-stage boss fight; this, again, shows where SJM were experimenting with things, as the song broaches noise, letting the vocals haze into a fuzzy, warbling layer throughout – it’s a much more indirect form of “rocking,” that still maintains the band’s inherent wackiness and energy.
Also included as a coda is SJM’s Top of the Hour theme from MTV Japan.