Music Review

By Fen Hsaio
Arizona Daily Wildcat
January 25, 1996


For those lucky few who got to see this band open for Boss Hog a few months ago, you'll surely be disappointed with this full length album that lacks both the energy and playfulness of Cibo Matto's live performance.

If you want the same fun displayed during their phenomenal show, I would suggest purchasing the two 7" singles, "Know Your Chicken" and "Birthday Cake," and skipping this album that genuinely makes me wonder what was going through their minds when they go t to the recording studio.

Cibo Matto (pronounced Cheebo Matto) consists of two irresistibly cute Japanese girls who were tired of depressing songs after spending time in a Japanese punk rock band. At the show, singer Miho Hatori and keyboardist Yuka announced in their broken Engli sh that all their songs are about food!

However, the fun energy and funky mixes that had the entire audience transfixed with effortless smiles is almost completely missing in Viva! La Woman. Also missing from the live show is Russell Simmins' trademark drumming and the surprising bass performan ce by Sean Lennon.

Viva! La Woman just has too many damn slow songs, each lasting at least four minutes. I don't remember any of the songs being disappointing at the show, so they must have come across better live, but on an album they're barely tolerable. Overly kitschy an d annoyingly hypnotic, I think I even experienced a flare of anger during the 10 and a half minute cut simply titled "Theme."

For those of you who have fallen for the radio-played "Know Your Chicken" version, you really don't know what you're missing. Cibo Matto's decision in changing the album versions of songs previously released in 7" format isn't bad, but the mixes they opte d for are. Gone from the album version of "Know Your Chicken" is the Blues Explosion's Simmin's drumming, which gave it the funked up beat it had at the show. Also missing is Hatori's enthusiastic screaming which gave the single such a standout quality.

The only song that keeps the album from being a complete disappointment is "Birthday Cake." Although this cut was also previously released as a single, the addition of party-like voices in the beginning and a stronger bass line, as well as cleaned-up voca ls, make this a finer version. "Shut up and eat!" Hatori yells during the chorus, which she frantically jumped up and down to during their show. And when she lists the ingredients, "Extra sugar, extra salt, extra oil, and MSG!" it's possibly the most deli ghtful line in a song I've ever heard.

I want to have fun listening to an album, not be put to sleep. With their slower songs and lack of concentration on their obviously better, more upbeat and funkier tunes, Cibo Matto is in danger of becoming a novelty act, instead of progressing to the acq uirable level of the next Beastie Boys. After seeing them live, I came home raving about how good they were, but after creating such anticipation among my friends and then hearing their understandably disappointing response to Viva! La Woman, I'm a little embarrassed.