If you claim to be a Japanese music fan, you’ve at least stumbled upon the name Shonen Knife, whether it be in conversation or in a rather embarrassing mix up of album borrowing where your friends give you a mislabeled burned disc, telling you it is Dir En Grey, but it’s not. Shonen Knife is legendary and there is no other way to put it. Holding a much coveted title of one of the few bands to make it in the U.S.A, they have experienced a great many lineup changes and put out a ridiculous amount of albums since formation in 1981. While one could go through a brief history lesson on how they were a pioneer in Japanese women’s bands and how impressive the band truly is, it seems best to let the music speak for itself and the album review commence.
Musically, it is extremely 70’s punk. If you miss the Ramones vibe, then you have not even picked up the album. Compositionally it is nothing to write home about, but it is ridiculously fun to listen to as well as play if you just so happen to be in a jamming mood. The guitar is solid and upbeat, the bass is actually audible, and the drums keep time. The assembly of tracks gives just enough energy when needed, but keeps an everyday, relaxing quality. As always, the band pairs this quality with non-aggressive, upbeat, nigh conversational lyrics. These, despite being a notable quality of the band, can always take you aback when you are not expecting it. In example, in “Green Tangerine”, the song is perfect for the album’s title of Adventure, and then suddenly the singers are professing, “Green tangerine/ Food of Sunshine / Tons of vitamins / Ai Me My / Just begun / No one knows the future / Just begun / Spring’s around the corner.” While the song is about a carefree attitude at the start of spring, the assertion that green tangerines are healthy for you is laughter inciting because it is just so random. These sort of commentaries make the album a million times more interesting than first glance. It’s not all happy ultra-eccentric super pop punk band music, as the band itself have called it. There are times where the lyrics get a little scary, such as in “Dog Fight” where the narrator of the song finds dogs fighting and pleads with them to stop and be peaceful.
While it may not be blindingly brilliant or the J-rock you were initially seeking, Shonen Knife remains a good old standby and highly refreshing. Their energy is not easily replaced with another band. Adventure is a phenomenal addition to their discography, lyrics giving you exactly what its title proclaims: an adventure with three really happy compatriots.