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Album review: Mika Miko's 'We Be Xuxa'

May 5, 2009 |  1:44 pm

Mikamiko For most ambitious rock bands today, replicating the intricacy of their studio recordings live is a challenge. The L.A. punk band Mika Miko has the opposite problem. Its live sets are so rambunctious -- frontwoman Jennifer Clavin sings through a microphone welded in a telephone handset, making concerts look like boyfriend-drama debriefings -- that any studio album has its work cut out.

Many moments of "We Be Xuxa" come close to fulfilling the band's Slits-meets-Wipers mania, but much of the record feels so giddily tossed off that one almost wishes for a little sheen.

The leaner, darker tracks such as "Wildbore" and the dance-tinged "Sex Jazz" and "Totion" are the best here. The band's instincts for brashness work well when tethered to big riffs, and when their spitfire vocals can be a percussive accent rather than the main thrust of the tune. But whereas its Smell peers in No Age and Abe Vigoda use treble-heavy mixes to create something artfully uncanny, Mika Miko's "Xuxa" as a whole feels in need of a production spit-shine.

None of that matters in person, but for better and worse, "Xuxa" is an unexpectedly flinty record from a band growing into its charms.

--August Brown

Mika Miko
"We Be Xuxa"
Post Present Medium
Two-and-a-half stars