Rating: * * * *
There has always been more than a dash of arsenic laced through the Mint Chicks' sherbet-flavoured pop. And it may not seem like it at first but the Portland-based Auckland trio have upped the dose of poison on their third album, Screens.
It's a record of extremes, with the throwaway catchiness of I Can't Stop Being Foolish and Don't Sell Your Brain Out, Baby off set by the warped and mangled stylings of What A Way and Enemies. And in between there's the Clean on P jaunt of the title track.
Yet songwriting brothers Kody and Ruban Nielson manage to make the album coast along on a pure pop rock plane (something they call "troublegum"). And it's all underlined by the Nielsons' devilish and wry sentiment, with deadpan stories - this time round often told through fruity vocal processors - about being caged up, haunted by demons, and having a noose around your neck.
At around 30 minutes it's over pretty quickly, and because it includes almost intentionally disposable gems like I Can't Stop Being Foolish, it doesn't have the substance of 2006's Crazy?Yes!Dumb?No!, which makes you wonder whether it has the same durability as that classic Kiwi album.
One friend said he's listened to it so much in the car he sometimes feels like throwing it out of the window.
Then again, it's near impossible not to enjoy the agitating delights of Enemies and Life Will Get Better Some Day - the last and best tracks - with hand-wringing and gold teeth-flashing glee. Screens is addictive and deliciously obnoxious.