BiSH – GiANT KiLLERS | MINI ALBUM REVIEW

Release Date: June 9, 2017
Formats: CD, Digital
Label: Avex


The new BiSH record suffers from a clear identity crisis, but there’s still hope for the future

BiSH is without a doubt the act from the Alternative Idol niche that’s getting the most attention. After last year’s well received record “KiLLER BiSH”, the six relentless girls came back with a single a few months ago that raised more than an eyebrow among fans, not for its quality per se, but for the lack of hard-hitting tracks in favor of a clearly mainstream-oriented approach; the reaction was so loud that even the unit’s producer reached out to the fans on Twitter, citing “Budokan” as one of the reasons behind this stylistic approach. Definitely a clear explanation.

As a consequence, this new release from BiSH – that takes the form a five tracks Mini Album titled GiANT KiLLERS – has been awaited as a sort of indicator of the unit’s stylistic direction in this particular moment of their career: between those who expect a total mainstream turn in their sound, and those who hope in a revamped version of the relentless attitude that marked the unit’s previous records, no one truly knew what to expect from this mini album.

“GiANT KiLLERS” is a record that lies in the middle of the above-mentioned expectations: not a series of slow-tempo ballads, neither a complete collection of bangers. The potential is still there, and there’s no doubt about it: the title track and opener is a perfect representation of what the unit is capable of, perfectly merging a catchy approach to the franticness typical of the BiSH sound, with fast-paced drum patterns and melodic riffs culminating in a chorus made of catchy vocal lines and Punk-reminiscing choirs, resulting in an instant earworm and a powerful track for live shows. If there’s a sound that best represents BiSH in this moment of their career, it’s definitely this one: it fits their identity while being extremely fun and refreshing.

It’s a shame that “GiANT KiLLERS” doesn’t nurture this winning formula, as the record kinda fails at keeping the interest up after the great impact of the first track. There’s nothing necessarily bad here, but most of it sounds shallow and even repetitive at times: Nothing sounds like it was made from leftovers of the “Orchestra” recordings, and while it’s a style that can somehow find its place in the structure of a full record, it’s pretty clear that piano melodies and cheesy symphonic layers just don’t fit in a mini album of a unit that gives its best when feasting on Punk Rock and Metal influences. “VOMiT SONG” suffers from a problem the unit showcased in recent times, that lies in overly lengthy and uninspired choruses; this issue is partly present in “Marionette” as well, but the track ultimately works thanks to electric guitar riffs that enrich several sections. The record still occasionally showcases interesting ideas, particularly in “Shakai no Rule“, featuring a goofy and playful approach – a first for the unit – that works surprisingly well, coupled by a straight-to-the-point and carefree chorus that’s as simple as effective: it’s a fast and fun track that kinda plays it safe, but it still stands out as one of the best-crafted numbers on this mini album.

Overall, “GiANT KiLLERS” is a record that shows a lot of uncertainness. It tries to be overly appealing and friendly, an approach that comes in contrast with the nature of the project and the girls alike, consequentially failing due to a clearly uninspired songwriting. On the other hand, it also shows that BiSH can still rock and adopt interesting ideas, other than finding a perfect compromise between their typical sound and the position they’re in, as shown by the brilliant title track.

For this, “GiANT KiLLERS” suffers from a clear identity crisis, and it’s surely the weakest release from BiSH to date. At the same time, it also proves that these girls and their team still have what it takes to make exciting music that can satisfy their fans, as well as attracting new ones. They just need to choose the right direction, because it’s clear that they’re trying to satisfy their fanbase as well as developing a way too forced mainstream appeal, and the result is naturally conflicted and unconvincing. The hope is that they will take a moment to realize what’s best for them, while rocking bigger stages and ranking higher in the charts.

Vote: 6 / 10


– Alex

Suiyoubi no Campanella – UMA | ALBUM REVIEW

aramajapan_suiyoubi-no-campanella-uma-cover-art

Release Date: June 22nd
Format: CD
Number of Editions (1): Regular Edition


Suiyoubi no Campanella make their Major Debut with a Mini Album featuring highs and lows

When you’re one of the most acclaimed uprising acts in music, the passage to a Major Label is a very delicate moment: many are expecting more from you, someone pretends that you’ll stay the same, while others will be ready to bash you, no matter what.

It’s the case of Suiyoubi no Campanella, one of the most interesting J-pop/Electronic outfits of the last years, that’s entering in the mainstream scene with a brand new contract signed with Warner Music Japan, while taking swift looks at a possible worldwide expansion in the meantime. With several valuable works under the belt, including last year’s highly acclaimed record Zipang, it’s clear that the weight this valid team of artists carries on the shoulders is everything but a joke.

With the Major Debut record UMA, Suiyoubi no Campanella brings to the table a short journey that plays with previously mastered formulas, adopts different sonorities, and experiments with new patterns, exactly as you would expect from such a creative outfit. But with so little time at their disposal, and high expectations to meet after setting the bar so high, it’s legit to wonder if this release is as solid as the group’s  previous works.

The answer is no. There are some clear flaws in this seven-tracks mini album, and some new experimentations don’t always work. On the bright side, though, it also features several enjoyable moments, and they’re mostly exposed right at the beginning, after pushing the “Play” button.

Campanella indeed kicks off this new record with Chupacabra, a number that brings back the highly acclaimed mix of Electronic music and Rap, with deep beats coupled by KOM_I’s vocals, enriched by edgy synths in a pleasant drop well placed in this masterfully structured track, which promises to be a new classic of their catalogue. The group keeps it up with the following Tsuchinoko, adopting the same classic formula in a softer way, alternating soothing and high-pitched vocals and fusing them with playful melodies, that keep the mood up in an effective way. These two tracks alone confirm how the group still got what it takes to make deep and detailed music genuinely fun, and it’s great to hear Campanella’s signature sound pleasing our ears once again.

Still, things start to change from this moment on, and it’s where the album starts to become a kind of hit and miss experience. Yeti brings interesting sonorities, but its structure feels recycled, and KOM_I’s vocals aren’t biting as usual, as if the singer doesn’t feel comfortable with this particular singing style. The following Unico is an uninspired ballad with no particular merit, and it’s kind of a let down considering how the group always managed to pull off great songs following this style. Phoenix luckily takes the mood back where it was, relying on catchy vocal melodies and a convincing chorus, and despite feeling a bit simplistic, it still manages to deliver a fun and enjoyable experience. Sadly, the last two tracks are the most disappointing part of UMA: They’re the longest numbers in here, and the will of experimenting sounds more like an excuse to deliver a rushed piece of work, with a result that’s honestly boring and unconvincing, despite a few nice passages here and there. It’s a real shame that this album had to be closed like this.

Ultimately, the main problem with this record, is that everything new tried here sounds like a rushed attempt at meeting the deadline, with some clear tricks here and there to make most of these numbers catchy and less detailed, translating in a faster line of work. The result is fine, but not as deep as you would expect from Suiyoubi no Campanella, and the fact the few tracks bringing their classic style represent the highlights of this release, is something to think about.

UMA is a record that undoubtedly feels disjointed and not polished as the group’s previous releases. In the end, though, most of its tracks are enjoyable, but not as convincing and memorable as you would expect. A real shame, considering how creative and fresh this group actually is.

Vote: 6.5 / 10


Tracklist:

01. Chupacabra
02. Tsuchinoko
03. Yeti
04. Unico
05. Phoenix
06. Tapir
07. Kraken

– Alex