With her previous album, irony, ACO had gone so far beyond the electronica-pop of Material and absolute ego, she would have fallen off a cliff if she went further.
So on the mini-album mask — 2 1/2 years to record six songs? — she pulls herself back into the world of beats and melodies.
Call it a creative adjustment, kind of like the market corrections on Wall Street.
And personally, I’m glad she’s brought herself down to earth.
ACO, who writes or co-writes her own songs, has a keen sense of melody. "ya-yo!" opens mask with an almost child-like croon and a driving beat.
She offers angelic harmonies and some slightly fractured rhythms on "guilty". A glitchy, robotic cover of the Waitresses’ "I know what boys like" maintains the song’s timeless flirtatiousness while projecting it into the future.
ACO may not have Patty Donahue’s sassy delivery, but her own deadpan puts an interesting spin on the antagonistic tease. While Donahue may have felt glee out of making men suffer, ACO gives off a cool, bored vibe that could only come off as alluring.
(But I’m gay, so what the fuck do I know about women?)
The last half of mask covers the more immediate sonic territory ACO has explored. "Rikunoritou" shows off an Icelandic influence, as if ACO was ready to take down Björk.
I would so love to hear ACO try her hand at "Hyperballad".
"Cover grrl" dives straight into New Wave fashion with an ’80s beat. I guess she listens to the Killers too.
mask concludes with a new version of "Fuan no Onna", one of her earliest songs. I’ve never heard the original myself, but given the arsenal of effects and the preponderence of drums, I’m sure the remix sounds nothing like the original.
mask is a fun, light diversion, a nice answer to the seriousness of irony. At six songs, it’s the perfect length. ACO can afford to jump around stylistically in that short duration — it would have been more difficult to maintain over an entire album.
That said, I’m hoping mask will be followed by a full-length album in the near future. It seems to take ACO more time between releases nowadays, and a 2 1/2-year wait for six songs seems somewhat skimpy.