Melt-Banana makes some of the least aggressive aggressive music ever. Their thrashy pronk is fast and heavy, quoting equally from metal and hardcore and freeform noise, but it all sounds like a cartoon. With their speed and chirpy vocals you’ll wonder if streams can play at the wrong RPM, and their short, intense explosions of frenetic activity are cloaked in a synthetic aesthetic that makes everything sound like the work of robot chipmunks. It’s some of the most adorable noise you’ll ever hear.
Fetch is a disorienting powerhouse of complex riffs, noise blurps and mechanically exacting double kick drumming. It’s a prime cause of musical motion sickness when experienced through headphones, and also a sublime exploration of pop extremity and the absurd. The band might regularly untether itself from the traditional expectations of pop songcraft, but despite the bits of noise and brutality, Fetch remains a thoroughly catchy record. The hooks are bent, but they’re hooks nonetheless.
“My Missing Link” is proof. Ichirou Agata’s minutely crafted riffs spiral around one another, a dense blur of math and sound effects, before erupting into a herky-jerk blast of metallic fury. There’s almost a tinge of sadness in Yasuko Onuki’s vocals on “Schemes of the Tails,” and when coupled with Agata’s descending riffs and extended outro it lends the song an almost operatic tension. At its most straightforward, Fetch could conceivably sound ready for the radio—“Lie Lied Lies” has a breakdown that would fit perfectly in a Fall Out Boy song, and underneath its looping, Fripperiffic guitar squiggles “Zero” smoothes out into a relatively straightforward dance-pop tune.
That’s one of Melt-Banana’s hallmarks, though. They turn bits of genres often considered disreputable because of their aggression and youthful focus into cartoon art, like the musical version of KAWS’ vinyl flimflam. In the grand scheme of Japanese noise Melt-Banana’s the most playful but also perhaps the most refined.