Released in conjunction with her current tour of Australia and Europe, Mexican Teenagers finds guitar-tuoso Kaki King pushing a harder edge away from the ethereal pop and folk-accented electronica of last years Dreaming of Revenge. With just the help of band members Matt Hankle on drums and Dan Brantigan on synth, King uses this 5 track wholly instrumental EP to expand upon her musical palette in very unexpected ways.
As far removed from her previous work as possible, the title track could be mistaken for a studio jam, with King and Hankle playing off each other as if in a sub-grunge workout in Steve Albini’s basement. King’s weapon of choice for most of this EP being the baritone electric guitar, known for its murky, bass-like tone that neatly offsets the repetitive bright splash of the cymbals. “Gouge Both Your Eyes Out (But Eat Only One)” continues the same theme as the prior track, King exploring the frets of the baritone and dwelling very close into Primus territory.
More guitar noodling and percussive exploration inhabits “Lintoria”, and by this stage you’re wondering what happened to this soft-voiced introspective girl who so playfully opened herself up on Dreaming of Revenge, as this display of math rock-like prowess veers dangerously close to empty showmanship. The enigmatically titled (and frankly aren‘t they all) “Vivian Leigh’s Veins” isn’t as easy to dismiss, King creating a Morricone-like mood, with flourishes of acoustic guitar and picked electric strings to give the track some atmospheric depth.
“A Long Way To Go Before We Are Truly Danlike” utilises the baritone again, with King playing a cyclic riff that threatens to build into a hardcore breakdown before turning its heels into an ambient composition courtesy of Dan Brantigan on the EVI synth (the ‘Dan’ in the ‘Danlike’ one presumes). With its electronic bleeps and abstract nuances it feels quite out of place within the context of the other tracks (though less so in comparison to Dreaming…), and perhaps because of this it’s easily the best of the five offerings.
“Baffling” is perhaps one way to describe Mexican Teenagers, but without any context behind these recordings, it’s hard to understand what greater purpose they filled. For King it could be seen as nothing more than a temporary change of musical scenery, or alternately, and more importantly, a signpost for releases to come. Either way, it’s definitely food for thought for people who have followed her career thus far.