Cibo Matto – Stereo Type A — music review
Posted on November 22, 2005 by Kris Nelson
Ah, fizzy J-pop with its perky jumpbeats and relentless optimism. Broadcasting from a technological mecca, laced with so much expected escapism from a turbulent, demanding society, pop music from Japan embodies either pungent cutesyness or the exact opposite– raunchy overuse of misused curse words –but only one thing can be certain: behind every foreign pop icon, there’s American influence. Cibo Matto (Miho Hatori & Yuka Honda) are no exception, citing Isaac Hayes and Ice Cube as influences, and even attracting aid from Sean (Honda’s then beau), son of the premiere rock guru for positivity, John Lennon.
Cibo Matto embraces their kooky charm and they remain original by frequently updating their style. Stereo Type A, their third album, is an example of groovy infusions of funk, hip-hop, swank, latin jazz. It inserts their signature semi-spiteful tongue and once again dips it in sugar.
There’s a healthy mix of wow-how-i-love-to-be-in-love and breakup elation (or pre-breakup “if you don’t shape up”) as well as lyrics seeking guidance from the sociological guardian angels. Their ongoing requisitions for lofty equality are silenced by cheerful trumpets and congos. So if you’re not paying attention, you could easily miss their message and that would be a shame since that’s the penultimate part.
Cibo Matto have always been the epitome of open-mindedness and crazy lyrics, so some find their inquisitive introspection and observation off-putting. Evident headscratchers appear in ‘Speechless” “Don’t make my mouth water, don’t make me want to slaughter/ If you give me a dishwasher, don’t clean my life with your style” and ‘Sci-Fi Wasabi’s’ “Ain’t no analogy for individuality, I got immunity from multiplicity/ Your vision of stupidity’s made of vanity”.
The duo also creatively utilize everyday objects as metaphors : “[Mama] didn’t tell me how to clean the ‘lint of love’”; “Can’t find the spoon that we once had/ the sugar cubes will melt no more”). More often since their name means “food crazy”, cuisine emotes: “Feeling stromboli not ravioli”. In their previous albums, a buffet was set with ‘Artichoke’, ‘White Pepper Ice Cream’, ‘BBQ’, ‘Know Your Chicken’.
It is completely endearing and refreshing in this ultra-literal litigation world where reciting careful or presupposed speech replaces poetry. Paired with the fine-tuned quality of the melodies and instrumentation, it’s insightful edge allows Stereo Type A to float past usual fluff-pop to become a well-rounded and stand-out package.