Album review: On Beyond by Muchuu

If your dial was switched to Radio 1 late last year, chances are you will have heard the sparkly electropop stylings of a bright new band named Muchuu, bringing wide-eyed sweetness with electro sensibilities to mainstream radio.  You may well expect such sounds to have sprung from the neon-lit suburbs of Tokyo (especially with a name like that), but this brother-sister combo hail from the green fields of Herefordshire in the English countryside, and their twinkly, good-natured music is finding fans worldwide.

It scarcely seems possible that this fresh-faced pair, whose combined age barely troubles forty, are already on their second album, but On Beyond marks an impressive maturation from their debut Adventure We Go.  The influences are many and varied, but it’s fair to say that Muchuu – composed of Milky (vocals, lyrics) and G-Man (keyboards, synths, backing vocals) owe a debt to the cheery electropop from the eighties onwards, as well as the more experimental output of pioneers like Bjork.

Their songs exist in a fantastical, Studio Ghibli-esque world, a world populated by pirates and dreams, full of imagination and invention. It’s fantastically refreshing to hear pop employ a bit of creativity in its songwriting approach.  Muchuu’s homemade-ness is pivotal to their charm and success – it is probably for the best that they found their audience through the blogosphere than a superficial record deal. G-man’s melodies are not without invention, either, with breezy synth production which wouldn’t sound out of place in a Japanese arcade hall.  Tracks like Dance The Day are peppered with 8-bit Nintendo-style noises and bleeps, appropriately accompanying Milky’s sweet-natured singing.

The tone and style will almost certainly be too saccharine for all tastes, but even then you can’t fail to appreciate the maturity of production and the earnestness of songwriting.  Muchuu boast evident talent belying their young age; it seems highly unlikely they’ll be pop’s biggest secret for much longer.

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