THE MINT CHICKS: Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! [Flying Nun]

Though more punk than pop, the Mint Chicks aren’t so easily corralled. Signed to New Zealand’s storied Flying Nun label, the chick-less trio seems itchy in genre pants, opting instead to rummage through piles of metal riffage, punk spastics and art-pop skittering. (The band calls its musical style “troublegum.”) While not as smooth or fluid as you might hope, Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! lives and dies by its herks and jerks, its more resonant moments never obscured by stubborn sequencing. Not such a warm welcome, opener “Ockham’s Razor” wrangles and then collapses on a scuzzy bass line that wouldn’t be out of place on a Queens Of The Stone Age record. Smuggling a hard-on for both Sabbath and the Ramones (much like could-be Mint Chick Jay Reatard), the sweetly melodic codas of “This Is Your Last Chance To Be Famous My Love” and “Walking Off A Cliff Again” signal sharp-toothed transitions from the basement to the stadium. Both are strong examples of the Chicks taking a pop number and burning it sky high, but it’s the title track that wears its dirt most attractively. Riding a snare roll that’s accompanied only by the occasional six-string groan and frontman Kody Nielson’s panting, it’s as satisfying a slice of pop noise as anything put to tape in ‘08. Crazy? Yes. Awesome? Sometimes. [www.flyingnun.co.nz]

—David Bevan