Pizzicato Five The Fifth Release From Matador

Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields once quipped (for he does little else) that the best thing about Pizzicato Five might be their sleeves. Each passing year that observation comes closer to gospel. This Japanese duo has always been obsessive about attractive surfaces - their sleeves, singer Nomiya Maki's multiple in-concert costume changes, the astonishing period detail of their videos. Consequently, their music has rarely been anything more. Music mastermind Yasuharu Konishi is a genius of appropriation, pick-and-mixing from over 40 years of all-that-is-not-rock to create manic amalgams that, to his credit, can make for incredible headphone fodder. Try to dig deeper, however, and one is left with the feeling of opening a box of bon-bons to find nothing but empty paper cups. To this end, P5 aren't so far removed from Lenny Kravitz; artists so enamoured of technical craftsmanship that they've forgotten to involve their own souls. This being their fifth album of such tinkery in North America (there are 15 or more in Japan), they're also as creatively static as the Ramones ever were. (Matador)