With ‘Good Sad Happy Bad,’ Micachu and the Shapes draw out the most unhinged, experimental threads of their previous two albums ‘Jewellery’ and ‘Never’. And, considering their longstanding reputation for bizarre tuning combinations and sampling hoovers, that’s really saying something. Singular and hyper-focused, songs like ‘Thinking It,’ and ‘Unity’ train in intently on one idea and tumble chaotically down the hill like a wheel of cheddar at the annual cheese rolling tournament. Visceral vocal takes with more than a hint of vomit, and spoken word narratives about jogging from the band’s Raisa Khan, are far more prevalent than pop songs.
A return to the bare, physical foundations of sound itself is the departure Mica Levi needed to make from her recent award-winning forays into the classical world. With all constrictions and walls battered down, ‘Good Sad Happy Bad’ is undeniably a very odd prospect, and - with the exception of ‘Oh Baby’ and ‘Suffering’ - it’s also lacking in moments with that instantaneous left-field pop connection. Still, for all its unwieldy eccentricity, ‘Good Sad Happy Bad’ is still fascinating, and early live airings prove that with space to unleash on stage, Micachu and the Shapes’ most daring experimentations have the potential to grow into a looming, all absorbing shadows of sonics. Taken as a normal album, ‘Good Sad Happy Bad’ makes about as much sense as trying to chop down a tree with a satsuma. Then again, Micachu and the Shapes don’t ‘do’ normal.