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Reviews CD Reviews Alternative, Indie Rock Zen Boy and Karma Girl- Who They Are and How They Came to Be


ARTIST: Zen Boy and Karma Girl
ALBUM: Who They Are and How They Came to Be
LABEL: Self-released
REVIEWER: Matthew J.
DATE: 4-28-08

Album Cover

It's a pity that Zen Boy and Karma Girl's gimmick is so painfully heavy-handed, because this is actually a decent folk-pop album, a bit like a more Americanized version of Belle and Sebastian. Few people will look deep enough to realize that, however. The pair's conceit is that they are actually superheroes from another planet, a gambit that has worked in the past for such deliberately campy acts as GWAR and Hanzel und Gretyl, but which seems spectacularly ill-suited for Zen Boy and Karma Girl's sincere acoustic pop offerings. True, this album does get fluffy in places, and not everyone will appreciate the airy-fairy wisp of "Madison" or the overly quirky "Wonder Woman," but even the duo's most hippie-leaning pieces are executed well. With its gentle psychedelia and quiet acoustic strumming, "Love, Love, Love" is like the aural equivalent of a vegetarian picnic in a sunny meadow, and "Yeah, Yeah" has a playful simplicity that's a touch like The Beatles. Even more impressive is that these hippies actually excel at darker material. "There Won't Be" is a sing-along pub song that uses its catchy refrain to mask lyrics as downhearted as the Delta blues, and "Keys" is gorgeously sad, stark minor-key fingerpicking highlighting a heartbreaking vocal melody. "And I Lost" is brooding and dark, with breathy lyrics and just a hint of guitar recalling a more polished version of Leonard Cohen at his best. If it has its twee moments, this is nonetheless good stuff and exquisitely sung. Hopefully people can look past the unfortunate stage personae these two have chosen for themselves, because the music deserves more than superhero-inspired silliness.

Visit www.zenboyandkarmagirl.com for more information.


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