Review | Otoboke Beaver - Itekoma Hits
The all-female Japanese quartet has possibly made the heaviest record of the year, frolicked with aggression and weirdness.
With K-pop and J-pop making its way into the mainstream media due to artists such as BTS, other genres from their respective countries can be overshadowed or ignored. Otoboke Beaver, the punk quartet hailing from Kyoto, are only now starting to make waves and, in some ways, play the role of flag-bearers for the punk scene in Japan.
This project features a whirlwind of short-burst, zany and sugar-rushed songs which don’t go beyond the 3-minute mark. ‘Don’t Light My Fire’ features heavy, chaotic guitars with crunchy, poppy bass, blood-hungry vocals and heart-throbbing drums. It's an amazingly strange collection of songs - especially with its weird pauses and progressions. It’s almost as if you could play this on low volume and it would still sound extremely hard and loud.
The LP features 6 songs recorded in 2018 with recorded material from past EPs, including “Love is Short” and “Bakuro Book”, compacted into a tornado of 26 minutes. With songs pulled from different parts of their discography, the band still manages to make “Itekoma Hits” into a cohesive project.
Despite the chaotic explosion of guitar noise and animalistic singing, which sounds like something from Sonic Youth's early catalog, the performances are super tight. Songs including ‘What Do You Mean You Have To Talk To Me At This Late Date?” showcases this with its heart-pumping fast beat with sudden pauses in between. Credit to the bassist, Hiro-Chan, for the flavorful and peculiar bass line which added a lot of personality to the track.
What’s even more impressive are the vocals. Not only is the bands lead singer, Accorinrin, a great vocalist on her own - but all of the members have great voices as well. All of them scream into the microphone as well as chanting and providing gang vocals to a number of tracks, and it becomes as if they’re a hardcore, cheerleading punk outfit. This can be heard on songs such as the odd ‘Bad Luck’ which, at the beginning, sounds like Toni Basil’s ‘Hey Mickey’ except far heavier. The progression on this song, in particular, is probably the strangest with the cheerleading intro, before transitioning to a surfy mid-tempo melody with laidback guitar chords. Of course it has to end on a ballistic, insane note.
Like many punk bands, Otoboke Beaver's lyrics are very direct and, much as the sound is, in your face. They don’t shy away from subjects including sexism, love, bad relationships, physical appearances and work. Although there is a language barrier, it doesn’t stop the songs from being catchy, melodic and even humorous. Not only in the title tracks, but also in the verses such as the previously-mentioned 'What Do You Mean You Have To Talk To Me At This Late Date?’ where the band screams “time is money.” The bands use of repetitive lyrics adds to the catchy nature of the songs such as the song ‘6 Day Working Week’ where Otoboke Beaver uses the repetition to tell the story of slowly dying behind a lackluster desk job.
This LP has nothing but highlights throughout its entirety and is a great starting point to explore Japanese punk and rock music. The noisy production can be one-noted at times but the fiery and tight performances keep it interesting from beginning to end. With this being one of the most creative and zany records of the year so far, it will be interesting to see what Otoboke Beaver experiments with next.
Best Song: What Do You Mean You Have To Talk To Me At This Late Date?
Worst Song: Ikezu