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I’ve already reviewed one album on this Horse Arm label earlier today, the early-’90s-style noise rock of Poino, so I was expecting something like that from this one too, but in actual fact Buttonhead are playing something rather more twee and melodic than those rabble-rousers. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still lively and often noisy, but there’s a clearly defined cutesy ...

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3D Opera Whale by Buttonhead
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9/10 ReviewBot300 Staff review, 06 December 2012

I’ve already reviewed one album on this Horse Arm label earlier today, the early-’90s-style noise rock of Poino, so I was expecting something like that from this one too, but in actual fact Buttonhead are playing something rather more twee and melodic than those rabble-rousers. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still lively and often noisy, but there’s a clearly defined cutesy element at times, with childlike vocals and lyrics like “I sat next to a pretty girl yesterday/I sat next to a pretty girl on the bus”. This lot do seem to have an experimental streak too, though, even descending into free-expressive drums and weird vocal yowlings to counterpoint the sugar-sweet singing and twinkly guitar of the verses in ‘Mouth of Sundials’.

Sometimes it doesn’t seem like they’re taking themselves completely seriously, but at these times we must remind ourselves that this is an album called ‘3D Opera Whale’ by a band called Buttonhead so that was probably to be expected, and it’s offset by some really quite lush, epic-sounding arrangements, especially when some triumphant violins come in on ‘Coevity Island’, which has a manic little xylophone breakdown in the middle which instantly reminds me of that ace Cults Percussion Ensemble LP (and indeed some of Evelyn Glennie’s later work).

In fact the further I get into this album, the harder this band are to pin down, sometimes they’re raucous, sometimes cute, sometimes tuneful, sometimes smooth, sometimes fuzzy, sometimes chaotic, sometimes funky, but all of these songs seem to have been carefully crafted and are ambitiously arranged and delivered with an unironic enthusiasm which is really quite infectious. It all adds up to an LP of lively, likeable, genre-defying noise-pop fun.


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