Do you remember the Catalysts? Because that is what I remember the first time I played Miniskirt. Or rather not the Catalysts themselves but those demos of theirs that Felicite released this time last year - and the conversation I had about them with my friend Nick when he played them to me.
"Hey! That one's good!"
"Yeah, that's what happens when something is original."
So that's what I thought about during the two and a half minutes of 'Be here with me', the first song on 'Woody Allen likes guitar pop'. It didn't last much longer though because 'Sonnige tage' came along to make me bounce and wonder. "How can a band sing in German and yet make a song I like so much?" I wondered while bouncing. And, "how can a Japanese band sing in German and make a song I like so much?" (I don't like Japanese pop much.) Also, "how can a Japanese band that sings in German make a song so good for dancing?" (because 'Sonnige tage' is good for dancing the way Belle & Sebastian's 'Judy is a dick slap' is, that is, very good.) Wondering while bouncing isn't very easy which explains why I wasn't so good at it.
When that was over and I sat down again, panting, Miniskirt had switched back to singing in English but the German accent remained, as did the questions in my spinning head. How can a mostly Japanse band with a German singer who sounds like Stephen Pastel make songs I like so much? How can a band write songs that are about the most obvious of pop cliches (love, falling in love and falling out of love) and yet sound irresistably charming? How can a band load their songs with the simplest of lyrics and still have them sounding so lovely? How can a band write a song that begings with the line "sometimes I think you are all like Pooh the bear" and still have me saying they are adorable?
I don't know how Miniskirt can do all this, but believe me, they can. And they can do a lot more too: describe the world in the year 2055 and namedrop Thelonious Monk in an effort to prove that "it is love that keeps us together, forever, forever, and it will never change"; repeat the word forever in the loveliest of ways, a way that gets straight to your heart; and combine shoegazing guitars with the most innocent, heartfelt-sounding girl/boy vocals in the whole wide world. And that's only what they can do during the 3 minutes and 44 seconds of 'Tongue information'. And 'Tongue information' is only in the middle of this record.
They can also name a song about being so sad and lonely you're feeling nobody's on your side 'Woody Allen likes Japanese noise rock' and make that sound fitting. And they can sing it in a way that lifts my heart all the way to heaven as I type these lines. They can turn glowing fish stickers on a wall into a symbol of the fact that "between us everything's still alright" while repeating "these fish glow in the dark" over and over again and still fail to sound annoying.
And they can write 'Her blue contact lenses make me crazy' to steal my heart and make the world a better place, because the world has always needed a song with the words "we are having a happy time, happy life" sang so heartbreakingly so badly, it's no wonder their first real fan has been known to sing parts of it out in restaurants and subways. And then they can follow it up with a few sad, sweet popsongs about breaking up and missing you but never giving up hope that get slower as time goes by but never for a moment fail sound charming, every phrase uttered, repeated, sang in near or not-so-near harmony by Edgar and Sachiko a pop manifesto in itself, another something to warm my heart and make me smile.
And they can leave me amazed and wondering how they can do all that.