As comfortable playing traditional gig venues as they are art galleries, Tokyo girl duo Kiiiiiii have built their reputation on their live shows, in which vocalist U.T. and drummer Lakin’ dash through a technicolor car crash of songs and musical skits performed in the character of 1980s American schoolgirls. The punk energy and the conceptual underpinnings (both members are art-school graduates) have won them local press coverage, but they are also a polarizing proposition. By creating a world of their own and inhabiting it so wholeheartedly, their shows can be alienating for people whose idea of fun isn’t the film “Freaky Friday” as reimagined by Man Ray.
Kiiiiiii’s long awaited debut album presents less of a stark challenge. Assisted by Cornelius and Buffalo Daughter collaborator DJ Codomo, “Al & Bum’s” 19 tracks succeed in alluding to the eccentricities of their live performances, ably replicating the latter’s chaotic energy and gleeful nonsensicality. Most interestingly, DJ Codomo embellishes many of the songs (including the odd kitschy cover version) with arrangements that preserve Kiiiiiii’s minimalist approach while bringing out the charming melodies that are scattered throughout the album. Kiiiiiii play Aug. 26 (2 p.m.) at Kyoto Seibukodo and Sept. 16 (4:30 p.m.) at Kichijoji Star Pine’s Cafe (with Shonen Knife) — check kiiiiiii.com for details.
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