Review of Micropixie's The Good, the Beige & the Ugly
This review is about Micropixie (MPX) - a bright-eyed alien songstress who arrives on planet Earth in the form of a compact beige human female. As both a friend and a fan, this is my take on her new album. I am Arjun Ray: musician-on-pause, punk rocker, scientist.
I first heard Micropixie's debut album, Alice in Stevie Wonderland, while absent-mindedly browsing music pages on Myspace in 2008. On the title track, I met a tiny emphatic voice pushing a spoken tabla beat and earnest star-gazing lyrics, and immaculate electro-lounge production. Frankly, I was tickled. As an ex-wallflower, I felt instant connection to the diminutive wide-eyed alien looking at humans from the outside in. Within minutes I had purchased the CD. For the next two years, I found myself listening to the album on bus trips between out-of-state gigs. Her lyrical imagery projected beautifully on the inside of eyelids closed between departure and destination. I still highly recommend the debut album for travelers and weary wanderers.
That debut album celebrates the vastness of the universe and first impressions of humanity. Like an alien-based movie plot, the first impressions of new life forms are full of wonderment and hope. That is, before unsettling truths arise and hardships emerge (headfirst through the chest of hapless space workers.) On this new album, The Good, the Beige & the Ugly, Micropixie faces the complications of living among humans with introspection and righteous defiance. Conceptually, the album is not a wide-eyed look up and out like Alice, but an eyebrow-raised stare into the heart of human relationships. What does remain the same is Micropixie’s characteristic quick wit, puns, and double entendres together with her knack for finding haltingly wonderful production. The album is filled with a variety of approaches to down-tempo electro-lounge emulsified with a thick dollop of soul. Imagine laid-back chattering electronic beats. Imagine rich synths and glossy vocals. Imagine orchestration and surgical production that responds organically to the lyrics. Better yet, have a listen. It's $^&$ing lush.
So, it gets messy. Micropixie’s experiment in being human has complicated results, her telling of which should quiver resonant frequencies in any person living with their eyes open. Being human is at best a delightful mess and at worst, filled with heartache, pain, and boredom. The album traverses all of these subjects without a trace of the maudlin. Micropixie comes out with guns loaded in "another episode in that Intergalactic Feminist Spy Thriller", hopping over obstacles with quick-footed lyrical maneuvers and throwing out all the “dodgy geezers”, “smart-arse guy[s]”, and “dismissive misses”. The tracks range from the serenely hopeful first song "Superhero" (which echoes of Alice), to the empowerment of "Testosteronica" and "No Nonsense", while in-between questioning social media and the playing of games within relationships ("Ones and Zeros", "Bullshit Paradigms"). The title track evokes a voyage under the surface of a new planet in a supercharged excavator, sighting the wonderful and terrible along the way but witnessing without lingering, experiencing but not looking back. The beat hustles like delicate machinery helmed by her mantra against all obstacles, "Climbing? Climb on!". This song, along with an honest cover of Radiohead's "Nice Dream" are my standout favorite tracks.
The Good, the Beige & the Ugly portrays a very changed little alien from the one that I first met years ago. In the life story of the character Micropixie, it seems to emphasize that tiny does not mean weak, and that not all extraterrestrial journeys are intergalactic. Although there is mention of a fantastic voyage, it is not of the spaceship variety. She croons self-reference to the album as a “journey to the center of me/where I saw the inventor of me” ("The Girl from Beige"). Micropixie is already at work on a new album, which weaves through the light and dark manifestations of a human love affair. If you are a fan of intelligent lyrics, smooth electronic grooves, and alien lifeforms I am shocked that you don't already own these albums. Get on it.