May 05, 1997 12:00 PM

Shonen Knife

If the character Hello Kitty leaped off a first grader’s backpack to front the Ramones, Shonen Knife might have a rival. But for now there’s nothing like the delirious reimagining of power pop by this trio of Japanese women. Microsoft adopted the former Nirvana tourmates’ version of the Carpenters’ “Top of the World” for a TV ad campaign last year, and Shonen Knife is on the top of its game with its first album of new material since ’94. From the opening song, the sweetly concussive “Explosion!” to the last, a punk-folk “One Week,” the band merrily skips through the rock riff book singing about robot toys, fresh produce, roller coasters and fear of frogs. Note: “One Week” isn’t really the final track. A seven-song instant greatest-hits package follows, with the album’s best tunes sung mostly in Japanese instead of the group’s exquisitely wobbly English. It’s a delicious bonus, another reason to enjoy Brand New Knife to the hilt. (Big Deal)

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