(Self-released, digital download)
Thanks to Disney, we associate fairy tales with helpful, talking animals; true love; and happy endings full of Technicolor wonderment. But fairy tales were originally much darker before the House of Mouse saw dollar signs in the works of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. Clearly fans of the classics, Burlington-based carnival-punks Miku Daza tell a fable as dark and twisted as a knotty old oak tree on their debut EP, It's a Fairy Tale.
Point of order: The meaning of the band's name, which used to be Skeleton Dancer, is twofold. Its front woman, Miku, somewhat recently ditched her birth name in favor of the mononym. And Daza refers to Fermina Daza, the heroine from Gabriel García Marquez's classic tome Love in the Time of Cholera. Just as scholars have said of the novel's themes, Miku Daza seem to think that love itself is like a disease — an alien infestation that consumes from within. But does that mean they won't arrive at a happily ever after? Well...
To establish a bit of storybook wonderment, the first sounds heard on opening track "Parasite" are the twinkling chimes of a windup music box. Promptly, they descend into splintered discord — a gloomy portent. Launching into a punky oom-pah-pah waltz with fuzzy guitar and bass, the track heaves to and fro as if ambling into a quaint village on a lopsided caravan.
"I can't help feeling what I'm feeling / You leave me paralyzed," moans Miku with dramatic cabaret flair. "You're a parasite / I'm a host." If only she could extract the interloping entity, desiccate it and seal it in a Lucite dome, she might be able to resist its power.
Toggling between grungy despair and a whirlwind of double-time, frenetic punk fury, a cotton-candy fever dream of hedonistic carnality unfolds on "Sugar Rush." Miku sings, "Spreading me thin like I wouldn't snap / Like taffy / Stretch me as far as you can." A sickly post-chorus of zombie-like moans transitions the track from fervid to tempered.
"Panic" is a verbose showstopper that features some of baritone saxophonist Jonathan Tollefson's funkiest work. Full of animalistic imagery, the line between predator and prey is blurred: "Like a fish inside a fox's mouth / You're gonna choke and spit me out."
Fueled by third-wave-ska energy, "Frosty Pink Skies" closes the EP with a purer kind of love. It's still wild and untamed, but love's malignancy seems to have dissolved: "The adventure begins / You found the door / You might as well come in."
Miku Daza concoct a devilishly charming aesthetic on their first outing. Unapologetically, the group demonstrates that even creatures of the night crave love.
It's a Fairy Tale will be available on all major streaming platforms on Friday, July 13. The band celebrates its release the same day at its rehearsal space at 195 Flynn Avenue in Burlington.