It is now clear to me. The world will not end with a bang but with a few minutes of Orono Noguchi, principal voice of Superorganism. It will come with a desultory glance over the shoulder, a shrug of said shoulders and her deadpan delivery of something like “yeah, that looks pretty bad. Bummer eh.”
For the more aged among us Noguchi’s voice could bring back memories of the Waitresses (“I know what boys like, boys like … me”); for the more recently whelped it may echo Melbourne’s Catcall. In any case it is the sound of a super bored teenager who could barely muster a “whatevs” to her parents’ demands, a voice where diffidence has turned to indifference, or maybe, a voice putting the non into nonchalant.
And it can be very hard to resist in the way someone who seems in no way interested in you is always that little bit more intriguing.
You may think Superorganism was so named because of the expansive number of members (eight apparently) or their antecedents (New Zealand, Japan, Australia, UK, South Korea). And in the way of a fast-spreading super flu taking over the world almost simultaneously, there is something to that.
But I think it’s because their sound is like a genre munching internal pac-man, gobbling up electronica, pop, slacker rock, art rock, J-pop, children’s songs and hip hop, amalgamating them into one super organism.
Nobody Cares, for example, manages to be both cheap electro pop (simple keyboard lines and squelchy bass) and schoolyard chant, acoustic singer/songwriter and droll Courtney Barnett, computer game soundtrack and Christmas carol-in-waiting. And it does it just under four minutes.
Then there’s the way The Prawn Song is simultaneously a stoned rap and a New York art project, or how Relax is a bunch of noise merchants squeezed into a room and told to make a song and play it through this funnel.
At their best, in something like the insouciant Everybody Wants To Be Famous (which sounds the most like Catcall incidentally) there’s a pop nous to Superorganism that lifts them out of couldn’t care less affectations and into a fizzy burst that could almost be – heavens! – embarrassment-free happiness.
Nearly as good is Something For Your M.I.N.D., which feels like Lorde remixing Folk Uke (though they are not near as catchy as Lorde or half as funny as Folk Uke), and Nai’s March, which removes many – but not all - of their gimmicks for something that feels like real emotion.
The latter song is also the closest thing to Avalanches you’re going to get this year, on an album which owes the Melbourne production duo a lot of short blacks.
In keeping with the mix and match approach of Superorganism this is both a good (smart sounds and odd juxtapositions please) and not so good (the seams show here when you look for meaning beyond the juxtapositions) comparison. I suspect they’ll be happy enough for now.