archive review originally posted on losing today site c.2001 ……
SHIMMER KIDS UNDERPOP ASSOCIATION
THE NATURAL RIOT
Ha, you know you are on to a good thing when you check the credits of a record sleeve and see theremins, melodicas, vocoders and sleigh bells among the instruments used, it’s the kind of thing that made me look forward to those prized Freed Unit releases. Summer Kids Under Pop Association you’d imagine are from the generation of the Apollo rocket missions, when TV was littered with Gerry Anderson conspiracy tales from beyond the stars and Sylvia’s clothes by bacofoil, when Superheroes where the realm of children, and children only and a time of sweets that could melt enamel from teeth faster than you could say lipsmackingthirstquenching blah blah blah. And what about the name, Shimmer Kids Underpop Association, hippy or what? Oh yeah and they are into sci-fi, big time!
With all these things going for it you pessimistically await the obvious impending fall for ‘The Natural Riot’, glad to say there are none, okay there are times when things go a bit misdirected shall we diplomatically say but then the forgiving thing is that the Shimmer Kids play at the pop end of the soft psych spectrum and aren’t afraid of admitting that they’ve been bitten by the 60’s bug via 80’s new wave, while equipping themselves with some cleverly worked glam rock and bubblegum pop pastiches.
The would be space cadets open up with the foot stomping sherbet pop three chord shenanigans of ‘Model Kit’ which sounds like the bastard offspring of Split Enz and Ramones in some transmogrification gone wrong and sprinkled in pixie dust on a lunatic rollercoaster. ‘The Getaway’ has that kind of faraway grace of the Eskimos, somewhere star bound and unreachable, initially starting out all spacey and trippy in the vein of the Butthole Surfers ‘Hurdy Gurdy man’ cover before cracking open and freebasing on a spot of wired jazz. ‘Burning bridges’ has all the hallmarks of classic ‘Fried’ era Julian Cope with surreal lyrics to match while shall we just say that ‘The Soft Police’ has a certain lysergic appeal something that probably would have resulted if ever George Harrison, Syd Barrett and Rolf Harris had been in the same studio with a tape rolling and a bag of potent hash stashed under the mixing desk. ‘Tones in Orbit’ parades itself with childlike glee, funfair style brass arrangements bustle into the local toyshop to play with the wares. One of the albums highlights are the two Beach Boys-esque cuts especially ‘Another Planet’ which dreamily moulds together the Ronny and the Daytonas surf classic ‘Little GTO’ with one of Wilson’s finest ‘In my room’ to great effect, followed neatly by a spot of rocking mid 70’s era Beach Boys on ‘Going in Circles’. ‘The pilot and the gardener’ an instrumental, invites you to test your Cossack dancing skills while ‘Miss Classified’ has all the sparkle and happy thrill vibe of the Elephant 6 collective with its west coast glaze. ‘The Natural Riot’ is a welcoming entreaty to don those 3-D glasses not forgetting the bag of stardust, carton of sugared popcorn and to enjoy the fluorescent floor show within, groovy man, groovy.