Love Gone Awry 

Noise Gone Right

by Kimberly Chun

Kaito UK

Wed Feb 26

Berbati's Pan

10 SW 3rd

Move over, Mark E. Smith; the girls are back in town. From the sound of Kaito UK's latest full-length, Band Red (spinART), and siren-bleat songs like "A.S.A. to Accuracy," the vocalist-guitarist Niki Colk's plaintive wail would slip in perfectly among The Fall guy's brainy-soccer-bully songs and make out just fine, mate. Of course, Smith and company aren't the only high-punk beat-manglers who need a shot of estrogen. With the exception of, say, Erase Errata, today's wave of no-wavers lacks distinctly femme voices and sensibilities. Whither the spirit of Ikue Mori, Teenage Jesus, the Jerks, or even the Bush Tetras? The time is nigh to carve out a space on the cacophonous now-wave dance floor. Obsessed with love gone awry and hooked on noise gone right, Kaito are pop-punk, in the same way Gang of Four, Wire, Th' Faith Healers, or Liliput are pop-punk. From afar, they look less like a picture-perfect Beatles tribute-circle-jerk than a stylishly tattered, primal-scream-inspired and punk-driven figment of Plastic Ono Band.

Blame it on bored youth--and ye olde port-town oblivion of Norwich and the beachy blight of Brighton, England--both of which are home to the six-year-old Kaito. Budding musician Colk met guitarist-vocalist David Lake at, appropriately, a Menswear show; bassist-vocalist Gemma Cullingford and drummer-vocalist Dee Quantrill came aboard; and the band proceeded to hammer their pointed numbers home with a raucous live show, some well-regarded 7-inches, and a Devil in the Woods/Fierce Panda debut, You've Seen Us ... You Must Have Seen Us... It also doesn't hurt that the coltish, modish Colk makes skinny ties and white belts look a lot better than the Strokes do.

Band Red finds Kaito rising to the occasion--and their album title--with hopped-up terror-code-red-like urgency. Erratic, alarm-like beats, outright hoots and hollers and an anthemic guitar line usher in the opening song, "Enemyline." "I did nothing wrong till I saw you. And it's all gone wrong cos I like you," Colk shrieks, above a Greek chorus of Cookie Monster yowls. Similarly, the horny "Try Me Out" skitters around like a spastic water droplet on a hot pan, bouncing along with Colk's distortion-laced hiccups, Pixies-dusted backing vocals, Lake's reverby guitar and Quantrill's snare shots and drum rolls. While the foursome sometimes sounds like an art-damaged Missing Persons, love or lust--that fretful compulsion to connect as Colk asks/shouts, "Ya know I wanna get some. A part of me is thinking what not to do"--is the prime mover here, even when Kaito quiets down to obsess about obsessing ("Nikki"). You want to loosen the tie that binds Colk and tell her it's going to be all right. But why spoil the group's anxiety-making fun?

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