Calling all you little rockers out there, you better fasten your seatbelts because the new album by Chibi Kodama is set to burn your ears off. Here grunge meets electronic, with a hint of Weezer, Metallica, The Cars and even Juliana Hatfield on display. There is an interesting flirtation with darkness throughout, particularly through the use of a heavily distorted guitar. Yet the album Tiny, Magical People is essentially optimistic, even informative, providing a narrative to the complex dilemmas children face each day.
The album kicks off with the track “Shorter Than Everyone”, a real indie classic, slightly funky in tone, highlighting the need to be listened to, and the frustrations of being at the beck and call of others. “Me Time” explores the craving to be alone, and is delivered with a memorable melody, and an exploding guitar, which further cement the frustration.
“It’s Time To Make Some Noise” encourages the urge in children to get loud, and is assisted by a hypnotic rhythm and an interesting sprinkle of keyboard effects throughout. “Mama, I’m a Warrior” begins with a slow menacing Metallica style intro, and then unravels like a cry for freedom, where the bicycle precedes the motorbike in a yearning for adventure.
"Just Because” is also defiant in tone, but has a lighter feel on the verse, somewhat reminiscent of The Cars. The chorus urges the listener to be assertive and not follow blindly; with accompanying power chords to further emphasise the point. “The Roach Waved Hello” is as bizarre a topic as you are ever likely to hear, describing a families’ encounter with a giant roach, and benefits from some really uplifting harmonies on the chorus. “This Dance is Mine,” has a more esoteric feel, with its wistful melody and accompanying grunge guitar, a combination of sounds unlike anything I have ever heard before.
“Different Like Me” has more of an electronic feel, with lyrics emphasizing the importance of diversity. “Smile” continues this electric mood, and is a great song although somewhat compromised by power chords that cut through the track like a chainsaw. “Mama’s Bossy Friend” is actually a mobile phone that constantly interrupts; stealing precious moments from the child ‘who really hopes his battery dies’. “Hard Times are Good Times” introduces a lovely female vocal, that reminded me a little of Juliana Hatfield. The salient message here is don’t give up, and remember that problems are merely a prerequisite to growth. The album closes with the gentler acoustic ballad “The Night is the Time”, a song written to help children deal with their nighttime fears.
This album takes the listener on a journey through frustration and uncertainty to redemption and understanding. Many of the songs explore the challenges and dilemmas facing the growing child in an uncertain world, and do so at times with a ferocity that resembles such angst. However, there is also a hint of irony in the lyrics, suggesting that kids shouldn’t take life or themselves too seriously. The music is dark and brooding at times, but the lyrical flair and high melodic content, place it very much on the brighter side of blackness. This album is menacing, didactic and uncompromising, but ultimately inspiring. It pierces the darkness, and in doing so, attempts to create resilience, knowledge and the realisation for kids that they can prevail, and music can help. So come on kids turn it up to eleven, and have a rip roarin' time!