By Jhoni Jackson
This Athens, Ga. ensemble clearly likes Miranda July. Their first EP, ))<>((, is an obvious reference. And while their debut LP, Something About the Summer, only boasts one nod to the same motif (“Back and Forth Forever”), the influence still prevails. It’s magnetic in that quirky-cute way, but a dash of unforced, totally natural weirdness keeps Koko Beware from the cringe-worthy territory claimed by the likes of doe-eyed Zoey “my vintage dress is so original!” Deschanel.
Lead track “Pretty Girls” employs the alternating guy-girl vocals and gurgly surf-style guitars that underscore the album, and the off-kilter chords and vocals add that crucial dash of strange. “Feed Me” is a bit more melodic and easier on the ears, but the highly discernible lyrics of the jointly sung chorus—"Feed me baby/ Feed me baby, oh yeah"—again give a little oddness to an otherwise typical tune. Lovey-dovey, cutesy-cuteness is what makes “Beach Babe” similarly sticky, but even more so. It’s one of those perfect little gems for mixes, the kind you’ll repeat over and over until you can’t take it anymore. “I Just Wanna Dance” is just as infectious. By this point in the album, the shoulder-shaking pop of Koko Beware is sturdy. The female vocals hold court on “Stay”, giving the track a girl-group vibe that’s reinforced by background oohs and ahhs. But as with the rest of the LP, nothing’s quite perfect—and that’s partly why it works. There’s something genuinely off in every song, making it irresistibly endearing.
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