Review by Heather Phares
Though Cibo Matto disbanded in 2001, their music still feels ahead of its time. Perhaps that's why it took a while for a best-of collection of the band's music to arrive -- Miho Hatori and Yuka Honda's musical influence is still felt more actively than many other artists from the mid- to late '90s. Hatori and Honda's omnivorous musical tastes (which spanned hip-hop, punk, dub, jazz, bossa nova, and pop), their perspective as transplanted Japanese women living in New York, and their fluency in pairing these wildly divergent influences with universal themes like food and love made Cibo Matto a band with a truly global aesthetic. Pom Pom: The Essential Cibo Matto does right by the duo's music, presenting the highlights from their albums Viva! La Woman and Stereo Type A and the Super Relax EP, as well as two previously unreleased tracks and a pair of rarities. Granted, Cibo Matto's body of work is svelte enough that most of it fits easily onto this collection, but it's still a joy to hear Viva! La Woman's vibrant "Know Your Chicken" and "Birthday Cake" mix with more subtly eclectic Stereo Type A tracks like "Spoon" and "Sci-Fi Wasabi." Not only is this collection a solid introduction to the duo's music for those who have only heard how cool and influential Cibo Matto were, but those who have loved the group since Viva! La Woman will appreciate the tributes written by Michel Gondry and Yoko Ono and will need the collection's hard to find tracks. "King of Silence" gets the remix treatment from a very young Dan the Automator (who worked with Hatori in the first incarnation of Gorillaz a few years later), while "Swords and a Paintbrush" goes in an atypically dark, but fascinating, direction. Die-hard fans might insist that the essential Cibo Matto is the band's entire discography, but Pom Pom does a skillful job of distilling their eclectic sound down to its tastiest moments.