Berryz Koubou - 6th Otakebi Review

I seem to be doing a catchup on reviews of late. Here's the next. I'll just say before I start: I'm not a big fan of Berryz. I'd place them firmly behind Momusu and C-ute, and way behind Buono. However, of late some of their songs interested me enough to give this album a spin. Bearing in mind this is the first full Berryz album I've heard... here's what I made of it.

The cover is too colourful. Risako is way too far forward on the LE. But bugger all I can do about it.

Preliminary: Surprising. Not quite what I expected. Not as child-centric. Amount of double A-sides saturates the album. Possibly overbearing. Lack of original album songs is cause for demerit. Writing affected by playing Mass Effect. Short, sharp sentences used frequently by one character. Apologies.

1. 雄叫びボーイ WAO! Good start to the album. Vocally strong, especially Risako. Something that she doesn't sound annoying on. Very good line distro for a H!P song, I must say. Musically, this is very good. Strong and emphatic, it certainly is a warcry. The video theme is bizarre, with Risako seemingly making Earth fertile. Dunno how many sex rites that took. Guitar solo is fucking bonkers, makes My Boy and Our Songs sound sane. Also has possibly the most memorable chorus line in recent H!P memory. Have had "SUPAAKU BOY!" stuck in my head for a few days now. 9/10

2. ライバル. Immediate good start, with guitar riff and hammond organ, then goes far too poppy for the verse. The rap-style parts are quite cool. But this song lacks direction. It flits hither and thither touching just about everything and doing them all half-heartedly. It has a distorted guitar that isn't heavy. It has rap parts which are melodic. It's bizarre, if anything. I'm in two minds to whether I like it. One thinks that anything with shitloads of genres is cool, the other thinks that it's only cool if it pulls off all the genres well, which this really doesn't. 6/10

3. 流星ボーイ. "Is that DANCE☆MAN? Holy shit." Was my first thought. Then I realised he had modernised. Using autotune. This is nowhere near as epic as his brilliance achieved in Morning Musume in the early 2000s. In fact it's quite lacklustre. The bass is real, which is a nice touch, but it lacks the all empowering punch of his earlier works, with the exception of the solo. The vocals aren't great either. I seriously want to really like this, but can't. The guitar-toned keyboard solo is odd. 6/10

4. 愛には 愛でしょ. Fuck yes. This is how you mix genres. That string-bending on the guitar is great, and the riff is a mindfucker. Add to that Momo and Miya in full Buono "rock strength", with some dance beats under it. Reminds me of Kanashimi Twilight mixed with Onna ni Sachi Are, in a good way. Tsunku should write like this more often. Solo is okay. However, the epic reverb bit on the guitar straight after is grand. 9/10

5. 青春バスガイド. Not a fan of this. It has some good moments, but overall it's not a good song. Sounds like it was recycled from the scrap pile after being written for 2001-2003 era Momusu, then being tossed away for being too samey. Nothing really stands out. Vocally it's meh. Musically it's meh. About the only thing saving it was the PVC outfits for the PV. And Shirow's epic Pedo La Da vid of them in said costumes. Otherwise... 4/10

6. 君の友達. This is baffling. Seems to be a minimalist song, but with no huge crescendos or diminuendos. The chorus is great, until you realise that the beat is someone tapping ridiculously fast on a keyboard or something. You'd think with the album title as "6th Warcry Album" it'd be a bit more powerful. Could they not afford a drummer? Or were they too lazy to program the drums? That clicking just pisses me off, especially as it seems to only come through the left channel. My left ear is screwed enough thanks. The monologue is fucking epic win though. Marks for that. Fail fadeout is fail. 3/10

7. グランドでも廊下でも目立つ君. Ah, finally some beef in the beat. Music isn't great, but Yurina and Maasa rise so far above the source material (which sounds like a terrible 80s anime theme, if I'm honest) that I like it anyway. This vocal performance is really something if it makes me like this, despite not appreciating it musically at all, especially as neither of the two are exactly "strong" vocalists. C'est une rareté. 7/10

8. 友達は友達なんだ! Really, really cool. Dunno why, but I love this song. Pulls off the "rap" style vocals way better than Rival. Sawtooth bass is a nuisance, but the rest of the music is good enough to gloss over it. Video is awesome, for the simplicity of it yet managing to be more effective than every Momusu video since time immemorial. Piano solo is cool as hell. Vocals are cool as hell. Random "shubidooba" is a hilarious hark back to the 50s, but in context it works. 9/10

9. 希望の夜. A ballad you say!? The piano and high pitched vocals work a treat at the beginning. The chorus is simple yet perfect. More proof (as if Loving You Forever from 10 My Me wasn't enough) that Tsunku doesn't need to overwhelm the listener with three million digital sounds to make a good song. Something this simple ends up being so beautiful, yet some of the terribly overproduced, oversaturated songs like Ryuusei Boy and Seishun Bus Guide are boring and annoying. So, Tunky, get it into your head that this works. 10/10

10. 抱きしめて 抱きしめて. I say that then come to this, which is possibly the coolest H!P dance song since Onna ni Sachi Are. It's oversaturated but it works. Possibly because, despite the large array of sounds, it keeps a consistent pace and tune throughout. You don't have 10 instruments doing 10 different things distracting you, if anything it's one tune and lots of embellishments. The beat is funky as hell, even I want to dance to it. As well as take my guitar and shred the fuck out of it with blastbeats. Dunno why, but I enjoy doing that to dance songs. To hell with it, I'm doing it. 10/10

11. ヤキモチをください! COWBELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Shit, that opening line which is then joined by the cowbell cracks me up every time (for the few people who may not understand it). Vocally this is cool. Musically, simplicity again works wonders for the sound. The harmonised guitar riffs are effective. Some of the synths less so, but still a cool sound, and a cool song. 9/10

12. 私の未来のだんな様. I may be alone in finding this song hard to digest. I find the tradition of marriage imperfect, boring and outdated, and utterly useless. Thus, it's a bit unpalatable to me, who finds polyamory a cool idea. Songwise, the weak synths are a bit annoying. The breathy voices are a bit annoying. Beat is a bit mental. The microtonal bits are hard to comprehend when one is basically tutored in the strict Western system of 12 semitones. Odd to find them in pop music after the Beatles, and this is a completely different genre, so dunno if I should even make the comparison. But overall, not a fan. This is another example of too much to digest to be good enough. I guess that's the downfall of being able to track every single damn sound throughout the course of the song individually rather than hearing what I assume most people do: a unified sound. I'm a big fan of progression in music, as long as it's tasteful and has a point. Classical music is a case in point. Loads of different instruments, playing sometimes completely different lines (especially in polyphony), yet it never seems too much. But throwing in another synth track with another sound just for one or two notes is taking the piss. 5/10

Overall: I liked it more than I thought. More than a lot of recent Momusu albums. Not a patch on Buono, however. As a full album, it has hardly any link to itself. Again, doesn't really adhere to a single style. However, less autotune = happy Krv. Possibly will make me look into hearing more of their albums.


Comparison Rankings:

Morning Musume. - 4th Ikimasshoi - 10
Buono! - We Are Buono! - 9.7
C-ute - 4 Akogare My Star - 8.5
Buono! - Buono! 2 - 7.5
Morning Musume. - Platinum 9 Disc - 6.5
Morning Musume. - 10 My Me - 5.5

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