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Thursday, June 30, 2011
Africaemo "Power of the City"
By REBECCA WILLA DAVIS
Africaemo are a band from the attention-deficit-disorder generation. From the Tokyo trio's name — an amalgamation of two words that don't have much to do with each other — to their mashup of music genres, flip-flopping languages and breakneck singing, you'd wonder why the band's sophomore mini-album, "Power of the City," didn't come with a whiplash warning on the cover.
That's not a bad thing: From album opener "City Boy, City Girl," on, Africaemo are less about presenting a focused, cohesive record than showing the listener a good time in under 30 minutes. When the band gets it right, they're pulling from groups as disparate as Gang of Four and Friendly Fires (there are traces of both "To Hell With Poverty" and "Paris" on the first track), with vocals hiccupping, guitar riffs skip-stopping, and hi-hats a-blazing. Almost as impressive as their vast range of musical influences — postpunk and disco-punk dominate "Power of the City," although everything from American hip-hop to Madchester-era dance make an appearance — is the band's endurance; on "After the Millennium," vocalist George gives Art Brut frontman Eddie Argos a run for his money, barreling through the chorus so quickly that the recording studio must have had an oxygen tank on hand.
Taken as a whole, the album is frenetic and fun (if not a bit derivative). But like anyone with a short attention span, when the focus wanes, the music suffers. The tracks "Dance & Touch" and "Yes! Today" leave listeners wondering whether they should be moshing or pulling out their glow sticks. By the last track, synth-player Yuki Abe's remix of "City Boy, City Girl," it's almost a relief to hear the song slowly stretched like taffy; it leaves just enough time to catch your breath before hitting "repeat."
"The Power of the City" release party takes place at Club Asia in Shibuya, Tokyo, on July 26 (5 p.m.; ¥2,500 in adv.;  5458-2551). For more information, visit www.africaemo.com.