Kalle Hygien The Raft LP

I can tell you with close to 100% certainty that if I didn’t have an obligation to listen to this record, I wouldn’t have. Even if I somehow made it past this MEAN JEANS-ass record cover, I’m positive I would have shut it off within a few seconds of the jokey PET SHOP BOYS-meets-SLEAFORD MODS opener “The Raft.” This just isn’t the kind of shit I’m looking for when digging into any record, let alone one that purports to be punk. But we’re here to give this thing a fair shake, so let’s soldier on. KALLE HYGIEN appears to be the solo project of Kalle Jansson, whom you may know from the Swedish garage rock act the MANIKINS. This is the first LP from the project after a handful of EPs of aggro drum machine punk. But don’t go into this expecting more of the same! Aside from “Dope Him Up,” a cool rinky-dink dum-dum electro-punk number, this record bears little resemblance to his earlier releases. It actually sounds more like the GORILLAZ or an early BECK album. The winky rapping on “Snake in My Garden” has some punk bite to it, but it’s impossible not to imagine Damon Albarn yawning out that chorus. And the production on “Surprise Party”—one of the record’s highlights—really reminds me of the DUST BROTHERS maximalism you’d find on Odelay. Other tracks touch on chintzy ’90s neo-exotica or budget Red Mecca experimentation. Most of the tracks, even the ones I really dislike, are compositionally impressive, even catchy. They’re just not very punk. Probably worth checking out—I really did enjoy bits of it—but I wouldn’t blame you if you bail partway through.