Mika Miko - C.Y.S.L.A.B.F. (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Mika Miko

C.Y.S.L.A.B.F. (2006)

Kill Rock Stars

Everyone has that one friend that they didn't even like at first. You know, the one friend you have that annoyed the living hell out of you the first time you met them. Eventually, you warmed up to this person, found their better qualities and realized, "eh, he/she's not so bad."

Mika Miko is that friend.

This friend, though, is one that takes a lot longer to warm up to than most. And even now, I'm not completely sold on the positive qualities of C.Y.S.L.A.B.F..

The album does share quite a few similarities with that friend of yours. First and foremost, Mika Miko are very loud, and very abrasive. Admittedly, this is a road block some people may not allow themselves to pass at all. It's because they're not abrasive in the extremely loud music sense of the word, but just in the qualities, or as some might contest, lack thereof in vocalist Jennifer Clavin. Her chirpy, almost tone-deaf snarl and delivery make it a chore to really breach the wall that it puts up. I was definitely put off by the vocals the first time I heard them, and it's taken a lot of patience to really let things sink in and be enjoyable.

The roots of this album are firmly entrenched in the raw and gritty punk of the `80s. The swirling dissonance and never-ending buzz of the guitars keep the rhythms interesting and the songs fast. The jangly progressions in "See You There" actually suit the vocals quite well, and that's what's necessary to defer the annoyance that a lot of people would be feeling otherwise. Also helping to quell the possibly problematic vocals is the fact that most songs are no more than a minute-and-a-half in length. That kind of brevity suits not only the singing, but the songs and album as a whole.

Of course, the ultimate goal is to actually come to understanding and enjoyment of the vocals, just as I'm sure you have that loud and abrasive friend that you at first wanted to have nothing to do with. It takes some time, it takes some patience, but with all the punk rock goodness that's brewing underneath -- the rewards are aplenty.