Mixel Pixel – Rainbow Panda

Mixel Pixel
Rainbow Panda

One of Superman’s trickiest and most deceitful nemeses is the cloying imp from the 5th Dimension, Mr. Mxyzptlk (pronounced mix-yeez-pittle-ick). His villainous pursuits were never as sinister as Lex Luthor’s, nor as megalomaniacal as General Zod’s. (Remember that guy from Superman II who made the President kneel before him? “All shall kneel before Zod!!” Terrance Stamp rocks!) No, Mr. Mxyzptlk just wanted to have fun – whether it involved turning Superman into a woman or trying to grant all the citizens of Metropolis their darkest wishes. And the only way to defeat the little, bowler-hat-wearing poppet was to trick him into saying his name backwards, thus sending him on a one-way trip back to the 5th Dimension, which I assumed had to be so much cooler than our dimension considering Mxyzptlk’s fucked up concept of right and wrong.

New York’s Mixel Pixel, while sharing a similar-sounding name, also has a very impish, mischeivious, and oft-dangerous approach to musicianship. For the most part this plays to the band’s favor, though at times the concept can wear a little thin and ends up sending Mixel Pixel reeling back to the 5th Dimension from whence it came. The band’s reliance on Legend of Zelda-era Nintendo beats, overcoats of fuzzy distortion, and folkie songcraft help place Mixel Pixel in a unique room of New York’s overly crowded rock corridors, which is a plus considering most 5 Burroughs’ bands first try to bum rush the Velvet Underground suite before grudgingly peeking into the other ones (Red Krayola?!? Ick!!). But like I said before, Mixel Pixel’s trickiest intentions, while outwardly clever and at its best a lot of fun, can sabotage its own intents and collapse into homogeneity.

First, introductions. Rod Corradetti (producer, composer, singer, guitarist), Kaia Wong (vocals, moog), and Matt Kaukeinen (bass, drums, vocals)? All right, now on to the music! Kicking off Rainbow Panda, “Pink Shirts” washes onto shore with syncopated beats, dreamy moog, and snarky vocals about pulling your hair “when you’re unaware.” Kaukeinen’s juvenile, pandering lyrics at times are reminiscent of Canada’s the Unicorns, though fundamentally lacking that band’s pure and unbashful youthful spirit. Mixel Pixel is a bit more sinister in its ways, as if, sure, it’ll have pillow fights and play Duck Hunt with you all night, but in the end it still wants to sniff your panties when you’re not looking. Distorted feedback abound, “Your #1” flops and spasms across the dance floor like your four-year old cousin at a wedding. “Desert Falcon” plods and stomps with swirling keyboards (reminiscent of the Castlevania theme), digital muckery and Okie-folkie guitars, y’all.

Then there’s tracks like “Perfect Little World,” with its annoying warbling effect that has the same effect as rapidly plugging and unplugging your ears while your dad yells at you. It literally made my brain throb during its brief incursions, but Mixel Pixel redeems itself with the giddy, anti-authoritarian anthem “Body Automatic.” Spiraling keyboard aerobics and drunken, sing-songy vocal delivery makes lines like, “School sucks! For 12 years, I’ve had it!” a bit more palatable and, above all else, stupid and fun. You can’t take this band too seriously, despite its lyrical attempts to get you to “think over” or “ponder” the bigger issues – it really all comes down to the little piles of poop dotting Rainbow Panda’s cover art. Little, pink piles of poop, mind you.

Mixel Pixel will try to claim “paranoia” and sad defeatism as overarching themes of the LP, but it all comes back to those steaming, pink deuces to remind you what the music is really about.