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CD REVIEW | EXPERIMENTAL POP

Micachu and the Shapes, ‘Never’

Mica Levi’s 2009 debut was a beautiful, clambering mess of tenderly damaged art-pop. Her fractured vocabulary of sounds (from wheezing vacuums to savaged guitars) drew itself into one of the most unexpectedly coherent post-pop statements of the year. Understandably, “Jewellery” was hit-challenged; keeping a Micachu song in your head can be like holding a handful of bees. As such, “Never” marks a welcome return, but also an important reminder: Levi’s one of the brightest brains on the brink of pop. “Never” is frank, fearless, and restless — a 14-song rattle bag of damaged samples, uneasy hooks, intuitive melody, and dry humor. The stunning “OK” borrows some of its gnarled syntax from Broadcast. “Never” is a rapturously nervous hymn to nihilism, “Nothing” unfolds like a bad trip in the Brill Building, and “Nowhere” is a tour de force of post-post-punk possibility. But don’t let all those negatives fool you — Levi’s is an aesthetic of yeses, here in full bloom. (Out Tuesday)

ESSENTIAL “OK”

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