It's been five years since Green Bay's young masters of bluesy skronk, The Mystery Girls, released their second long-player to a global audience through Los Angeles-based In the Red Records. The last show I remember them playing in Madison was more than three years ago. Where have you gone, Mystery Girls?
A glimmer of hope for future activity sneaked into record store racks a few months back with little fanfare, in the form of a new release titled Incontinopia. There's precious little information about the album anywhere online -- the label still merely offers a press release from around the time of the 2004 release, and the band's MySpace page offers no details on upcoming shows or the album, besides a picture of the cover.
However, there are a few identical paragraphs to be found online via various online retailers and distributors that read like a promotional one-sheet for the new album, stating that it was compiled by bassist/drummer Mike Zink from various sessions recorded a few years back. And while the LP itself offers no credits, checking out a CD booklet reveals that Incontinopia is yet another project recorded, and co-produced with the band, by the ubiquitous Justin Perkins. He's becoming sort of a Wisconsin version of Detroit tastemaker Jim Diamond, who actually produced the last MGs album. But enough parsing of scant details -- what about the music?
The Girls' allow some of their songs to breathe a bit more here than on past albums, which leaned heavily toward the wall of noise rave-up of their live shows. Opening track "Oh! Apollo" displays some pop influences with a cleanly produced sound featuring glockenspiel (!), and "The Magic Is Gone" comes across more like The Reigning Sound than The Yardbirds or MC5. Fans of the band's more intense side won't be disappointed, with blasters like "Quit Your Flyin Around" and "I Took the Poison" still in the majority overall, and much of side two taken up with the extended jam of "Cold Feet."
Incontinopia actually opens not with music but with some possibly found audio; incidental sounds or pieces of studio noise also link most of the tracks, and Zink has managed to create a definite flow despite the album's apparently haphazard assemblage. No matter what its genesis was, or whether the band even still exists, this new album from the Girls' adds to their legacy as one of Wisconsin's most powerful bands of the decade. (