|Released January 16, 1996|
Viva! La Woman (1996) Super Relax EP (1997)
Release date 16 January 1996
Artist Cibo Matto
Label Warner Bros. Records
|Genres Rock music, Trip hop, Experimental hip hop|
Producers Mitchell Froom, Tchad Blake
Similar Stereo * Type A, Hotel Valentine, Pom Pom: The Essential, Pre‑Millennium Tension, Maxinquaye
Viva! La Woman is the first LP album by Cibo Matto released in 1996 by Warner Bros. Records. The genre has been described as "urban trip-hop". The album received mostly favorable reviews. Some reviewers dismissed the album as a gimmick, a fact that disappointed the band.
Two singles were released from the album: "Birthday Cake", as a promotional 7" and "Know Your Chicken", in a variety of formats, for which an accompanying video was released. A video for "Sugar Water" was also made, featuring a split-screen technique, which was directed by Michel Gondry.
Warner Bros. signed Cibo Matto after their self-titled EP caught the label's attention. The tracks reflected the band's live performances, with pre-recorded samples and loops. Yuka Honda has expressed regret that she did not stand up for herself when others discouraged her from replacing the samples and loops with new recordings.
The album's songs all include food in some way, sometimes as a metaphor. Yuka Honda explains: "Food is something you can't escape. It's there every day." The band would frequently go to restaurants after rehearsal, and "Cibo Matto grew out of those restaurant times."
Album art and lyrical content
The album's lyrical content balances humorous lyrics in "Beef Jerky", "Birthday Cake", and "Know Your Chicken" with abstract, often emotional narrative-style wording in "Apple", "Sugar Water", and "Artichoke", as well as overall pop music fare in "White Pepper Ice Cream", "Theme", and "Le Pain Perdu". Several tracks feature the group's well-known references to food, primarily present on this release.
The album booklet contains illustrations and lyrics accompanying most of the songs. The only tracks for which the booklet features no lyrics are "The Candy Man", a cover of a song from the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (presumably for copyright reasons; the song also has all lyrical instances of Willy Wonka changed to the candy man) and "Jive", a hidden track with a length of 18 seconds consisting of Miho Hatori tapping her thighs, for which she is also credited.
"Theme", unusual among Cibo Matto's discography for its length, is a track which features a relatively normal song sung in English with several Italian words before shifting into instrumental passages and leading into a second half that contains entire verses in Japanese and French.
All songs written and composed by Cibo Matto, unless otherwise specified.
- "Apple" – 4:01
- "Beef Jerky" – 2:28
- "Sugar Water" (Cibo Matto, Ennio Morricone) – 4:29
- "White Pepper Ice Cream" – 5:10
- "Birthday Cake" – 3:15
- "Know Your Chicken" – 4:21
- "Theme" – 10:49
- "The Candy Man" (Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley) – 3:11
- "Le Pain Perdu" – 3:29 (literally French for "lost bread"; means French toast)
- "Artichoke" (Cibo Matto, Kudsi Erguner) – 6:41
- "Jive" – 0:18 (hidden track)
AllMusic's Heather Phares praised Cibo Matto as "Fresh and funky", and said of the album, "Viva! La Woman is an innovative and catchy mix of eclectic samples and stream-of-consciousness lyrics. [...] A diverse and entertaining album, Viva! La Woman leaves the listener hungry for more of their crazy food for thought."
As well as spending six weeks at the top of CMJ's College charts, the album was named as one of the ten best albums of 1996 by Spin magazine, and was later listed in their "Top 90" albums of the 1990s.
Entertainment Weekly gave the album an A- grade, summarising the album thus: "Miho Hatori and Yuka Honda[...] are sonic savants who go nutty mixing disparate ingredients, like avant-garde trumpet with bossa nova bass lines and sugary non-sequitur lyrics. The result, Viva! La Woman[...] is kitschy club music, as kooky and lovable as Hello Kitty."
From the liner notes of Viva! La Woman:(Where possible, the credits here have been adapted from humorous accreditations in the album's booklet, which are often made to sound sexual or food-related)