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Subjective as fun is, there are doubtless people who consider Shonen Knife the last word in unbridled hilarity....

SUBJECTIVE AS FUN IS, THERE ARE doubtless people who consider Shonen Knife the last word in unbridled hilarity. Just pray that you don’t know any of them. It’s possible to imagine how, in a quiet month in 1992, post-grunge hipsters might have found three Japanese women singing about food, pets and outer space amusing in a worryingly patronising way. Discovering six years later that Michie, Naoko and Atsuko still expect people to bounce about to songs called ‘Hot Chocolate’ and ‘Cookie Day’ is as anachronistic as stumbling across a bear-baiting revival.

As ever, the Knife sound like an AGM of irritation terrorists – The Ramones, The B-52’s and Helen Love putting Midget Gems in the water supply so they can incapacitate the planet with a sugar migraine and enforce the wearing of bunches. Like bad comedians, they do have their moments – ‘Dolly’ deals with cloning sheep, while ‘Fish Eyes’, if you think about it, is understandably high on self-loathing. But start thinking and soon you’re wishing for bunches just so you could hang yourself from them. Especially when, delirious with boredom, you start wondering whether lines like, “I can never get enough banana chips/I love to eat them up” or, “It’s a multi-coloured carp/Getting bigger and bigger/Gills gills gills” are actually bizarre euphemisms and ‘Happy Hour’ is, in fact, a masterpiece of sex-and-drugs depravity.

It would be something. Devoid of any real warmth, ‘Happy Hour’ isn’t half as stupid as it would like people to think.