Hang on the Box’s ‘Yellow Banana’

by Simon Bartz

All-girl Beijing band Hang on the Box is one of the few punk rock bands right now who literally wear their credentials on their sleeves, dressing the part as well as playing the music. They wouldn’t look out of place in 1976 London. It’s all a bit naff, you might think. But remarkably, Hang on the Box’s debut album, “Yellow Banana,” is the freshest record I’ve heard this year.

Many “punk” bands lose their way when trying to update the sound by incorporating metal, rap, electronica or what have you. Hang on the Box hasn’t spent any time worrying about such things; the result is damn good tunes. There’s not a single duff track here.

And they have a sense of humor. Only a punk-rock genius can come up with: “Kill your belly/Kill my belly/Kiss your belly/Kiss my belly/Keep your belly/Keep my belly/F**k you, I don’t need you!/Ooooooo,” while cowbells clatter in the background and one of the girls hums kazoolike. It’s one minute, 17 seconds of pure brilliance.

The next track, “Bitch,” is a two-minute hypnotic buzzing guitar motif and the three lines keep up the lyrical abrasiveness: “If you see me do you what you want/Don’t follow me, do you what you want/You are f**king dirty bitch.”

One song sounds like Breeders, another like Elastica, another a lo-fi ballad with fuzzed-up Hawaiian guitars. But, apart from the wacky touches, the most vital aspect of Hang on the Box is brilliant melodies.

Beijing may have outlawed Falun Gong’s slow-movement hand motions, but thank Buddha they haven’t infiltrated Hang on the Box’s mosh pits.