Review Summary: A fun, quirky record, which successfully, and unpretentiously, combines the aesthetics of math rock with the mechanics of post rock.
I’d liken Joseph Andreoli and Kenneth Topham, the bearded duo behind ‘Giraffes? Giraffes’, to a couple of naughty science students, in a well respected school, carrying out a practical experiment. Two inconspicuously bright fellows, they’re intelligence is hidden to their peers beneath a veil of twisted mischief. One day, the class is asked to investigate the reaction between two different, but slightly similar compounds, math rock and post rock. Not content with the typical, unspectacular product they were expecting when you breed pretentiousness, Ken and Joe decided that their experiment needed ‘mixing up a bit’. In classic rascal fashion, the boys added their ‘special ingredient’ (the legend still roams the halls) and the shocking result was a marvellous looking, odd sounding, fizzy product of utter intrigue. The boys claim they knew that would happen all along.
‘More Skin with Milk-Mouth’ is the second album from the California based psychedelic twosome, and offers a much-welcomed improvement over their notable debut ‘Superbass!!!’. While their debut showed promise in the form of impressive technical ability, charismatic song-writing, and smile-shaping originality, that was basically what the album was, a promise. But on their second outing, G?G! has shown that they are firm believers in never breaking a promise. They’ve not only kept up their end of the bargain though, they have in fact added a sweetener to the deal, the experimentation on this album is far greater than before, not only in instrument usage, but in the dynamics of the song-writing and structure.
‘More Skin with Milk-Mouth’ may strike you initially as more of a math rock affair but listen closely and instead of finding raucous time-signature twists and chaotic jerking guitars, you’ll hear strong, simple melodies in the form of frantic fret tapping, that build upon the ideas of one another, leading up to well timed, lively shifts in song structure. While the technical capabilities of the artists oblige a thorough admiration on the surface, the intelligence and strength of the song dynamics provide room for a much deeper appreciation and connection in each of the five tracks. “When The Catholic Girls…” begins in typical math rock fashion, frenzied tapping and inventive drumming – but the guitar tapping forms a melody, and the drums form a changing beat. When the shift comes, and the real guitar solo begins, one can’t but help nod their head and tap their feet in appreciation. Never one to rest on their laurels, there is always something in MSWMM to keep you interested. “A Quick One…” is one of the standout tracks, repeatedly delivering fresh melodies and exciting build-ups, forming creative climaxes to go with curled lips.
The ‘special ingredient’ injected into the record is simply their charming sense of fun. It runs throughout the album, in the album art, the song names, even in the usually pretentious spoken word section at the end of the second track “I Am S/h(im)e[r]…”. The words themselves, in a different album, would draw rolled eyes from listeners for sure, but in MSWMM they work perfectly. The odd voice and subject matter complement the quirkiness of the fuzzy guitars, creating a sense of humour within the sounds, and it’d be difficult for a smile not to be drawn across your face. And really, despite being the obvious contrast to what you would expect, fun is what the record is about. It’s an easy-going, addictive, down-to-earth approach to both genres, but with the intelligence to carry out purposeful experimentation, allowing for emotive connections to be shaped between the music and the listener.
‘Giraffes? Giraffes!’ have accomplished something quite unique in ‘More Skin with Milk-Mouth’. Yes, there is a noticeable lack of innovativeness, the dynamic focus sometimes dwindles, and the music can occasionally drip into the realm of ‘too much’, but the charm, intelligence, and technicality of the album can’t be denied. It’s a shock, really, that a band which fuses two of the most pretentious genres in music creates one of the most fun, quirky, and utterly unpretentious albums of 2007.