Sakura Gakuin - 2012 Nendo ~My Generation~ review

So, Sakura Gakuin. I've always liked their rock style and their ability to stick to their beliefs (in their case, their belief that even high schoolers are too damn old), which unfortunately means that this is the final album for my Sakugaku oshi, Nakamoto Suzuka. I've sort of been following her since the Karen Girl's days, so it's disappointing on one hand, but on the other, she's still in Babymetal, still got an amazing voice and is now even collaborating with other bands, so I guess it's all good. This leaves me with a predicament, namely, who to pick as my new oshi? On the one hand, Marina's been my backup oshi since I got into Sakugaku and is still insanely cute and awesome. On the other hand, she'll graduate in spring and thus I'll have to pick again anyway, so I could also go for Moa, who's also awesome, is more metal than Corpsegrinder and would probably sacrifice me to Satan if I didn't pick her.

Preamble: Leave off on the crayons. A less art-attack inspired cover may have been preferable.

1. WONDERFUL JOURNEY. Well, it certainly can't be described as un-Sakugaku. Guitars, rock sound and then a bit of culture in the verse, with some French street music when they're talking about France, and suchlike. The melodies are nice, as Sakugaku melodies usually are. It's cute and inoffensive, could do with a little more in terms of chord progressions, but I suppose it's not the worst they've done. Reggae in second verse adds some fun. Also Indian instruments. A bit more exploratory than they usually are. Suzuka still shines the most vocally. The mid8 has a bunch of random languages saying hello and thank you, for some reason. No real solo, just a bit of guitar whining. The buildup chorus is cute. So yea, decent opener. 7/10

2. スリープワンダー. Bit of a more pop rock sound this time, quite modern Jpop. Makes a change, it's quite nice. Somewhat of a more mature sound. The chord progressions have improved, though the vocal melodies remain consistent. Prechorus especially shows off some of the maturity. Could imagine several of those popular rock-ish Jpop acts pulling this off. One of them probably composed it, to be honest. It's quite nice that the mid-8 randomly has guitar shred and random dialogue over it, and crazy panning all over the place. It's interesting. 8/10

3. ヘドバンギャー!! /,,/ Fakjea. I love this song. The harpsichords. The brutality. The awe-inspiring vocals of SU-METAL. Still trying to tab the motherfucker. The guitars are grim. The music is, unsurprisingly, headbangable. If I were to redo my metal list, this would probably come in the top 3. Those tremolo picks in the prechorus so black metal. Then the chorus. Vocal melodies are perfect. Growls well placed. Still a shame Moa can't growl yet. I've a feeling the world will sort of create a black hole and implode when she does. Structure fuckery skips out second verse, has a solo, then buildup prechorus and suchlike. All perfection in metal form. /,,/ 10/10

4. ミラクル♪パティフル♪ハンバーガー. It's that cooking club again. With another bloody 8bit song. On the other hand, this is silly but win. The 8bit is a lot better, and the lyrics are fucking lulz. They really want a fucking burger. The vocal melodies are cute. The music is thin, but it all just hangs on you laughing and being moe'd to death by the lyrics. Which works. On the other hand, it leaves me with a dearth of things to talk about. Oh well. 7/10

5. すいみん不足. Oversleeping is bad. This is another stupidly cute song that has pathetic arrangement, but wins simply by the power of moe. Random tongue twisters in the mid-8 are cute. Still, only thing this has going for it is cuteness. Even the "solo" is weak. 5/10

6. スコアボードにラブがある. From Pastel Wind, the newest club. Quite a weird start, unusually interesting rhythmic patterns and then a weird chord progression. However, it then gets very normal. And thin as fuck on the arrangement again. The vocal melodies are pretty weak as well, so the intro is about the best thing on this track. The mid-8 is pointless. 5/10

7. サイエンスガール ▽ サイレンスボーイ. So much ambience it's like I've drowned in shoegaze and Faunts and a bunch of weirdness and ooh, science. Or should I say Go Science? Either way. The guitars in this are so awesome if I could I'd rub myself on them in a mildly disturbing way. Anyway, other than that, the vocal melodies are cute and the bass is brutal as a really brutal thing. The beats aren't too bad. The use of vocoding is pretty justified, due to the theme of the song. All pretty damn sweet. 10/10

8. デルタ. The second Logica song on here, it's got some weird crossrhythms at the very start, then a weird space funk vibe going on. Not quite as amazing at first listen as Science Girl Silence Boy, but still has some rather good melodies, and the spacey synths are damn fine. The flange-y guitars are also quite nice. The chorus needs a bit more punch. It's too weak. It's not bad, just lacking. The mid-8 is just the intro riff really. Weaker than it really has any right to be. 5/10

9. 桜色のアベニュー. Quite a retro vibe on this one, sounds like some 70s band. Melodies are good, and holy fuck vocal harmonies. Shocking. The piano throughout is nice, and the guitars are damn nice. Reminds me quite strongly of a Buono song. The chorus is so win it's not even funny. Melodies and chord progressions merge to form a song of pure beauty. Of course, it's Suzuka's solo song so it's not surprising it's a thing of pure beauty. Damn her. In a nice way. Second verse starts with just strings and it's sexy. Really hope Suzuka finds more in addition to Babymetal soon. Ooh, retrosolo. I like. Mid-8 is pure win, and then buildup with pianos and more layered harmonies... hnngh. Yes. Yes. Oh, and more yes. Need more Suzuka. 10/10

10. My Graduation Toss. Unfortunate naming aside, this is bad to Sakugaku at its rocking best. Pure speed and adrenaline. Chugging guitars, cute melodies, pretty damn odd chord progressions, and it's all rather nice. Prechorus has such clear melodies it's hard not to be impressed with some of their vocal progression. Chorus is standard Sakugaku fare, but still winning. The second time around is copy/paste, unfortunately, but I still enjoy. Mid-8 is like a 90s pop rock quote of everything ever. Buildup isn't bad. Structurally could be better. But still, the pace makes it cool. The final chorus lets the guitars just play less and becomes more effective. Damn fun. 9/10

11. マシュマロ色の君と. Again sounding like modern Jpop artists, with a more mature edge and some rock elements. Quite a nice one this. Guitar riffs are nice, the chord progressions not bad at all, and the melodies good. The chorus is also quite amazing, in a melodic way. Could do with less unison and some harmony, but it's win. The piano is also worthy of attention. The mid-8 is quite decent, and then a rather lacking guitar solo leads into a nice enough buildup chorus. Nice is the best descriptor of this song. 7/10

12. 旅立ちの日に ~J-MIX 2012~. Bloody remixes. The original was a perfectly acceptably amazing ballad. This takes that and leaves it exactly the same... at first. Then in comes uptempo beats, a quicker tempo, and the rape and ruin of the original's glorious call and response. It's still a nice enough song, but it's ruining the effect of the original. Why not just write a new song? Not that much effort. 7/10

Overall: A nice little album, as all Sakugaku albums are. A bit less rock this time, which is mildly disappointing, but with the same cute melodies and random subunits as ever. Speaking of subunits, this album really misses the presence of a Twinklestars song. Those things with that shibuya-kei piano-driven rock sound were epic. Even so, despite that, this gains a respectable rating. Still undecided on my oshi. Maybe I'll just joint-oshi Moa and Marina until Marina graduates. Hooray for being DD.



Bellring Shoujo Heart - Bed Head review

Bellring Shoujo Heart, or Bellheart for short (I guess just calling them Bellring had some interesting innuendo if you're into that sort of thing [NSFW, also don't click if you're squeamish]) are a very indie group. They caught my attention some time ago with the ridiculously bizarre PV for their song Circus and Renai Soudan, and then even more so when Tira and Mizuho randomly tied up a poor record shop assistant. They also recently added some more members, whose names I've not bothered to learn, and the aforementioned Tira, a Taiwanese girl with the same genetic malfunction as Michishige Sayumi (ie. looking way fucking younger than you are) is currently struggling with visa issues and isn't allowed to perform in Japan for the moment. So, just like any indie idols, they're in a flux-state at present but still managed to release an album.

Speaking of which, this is a bloody hard to buy album. It's not on iTunes or any of the usual net distributors. It wasn't on HMV, Yesasia or CDJapan when I wanted to buy it. Eventually I had to go to a Japanese distributor called Ototoy to get it, and even then my bank charged me for having the gall to actually buy something from abroad. But was it worth the effort? Time will tell.

Preamble: That font so 60s.

1. World World World. Speaking of the 60s, they just called. They want their music back. The music is amazing, sounds like it came straight out of some blissed out dream state the songwriter was having at the time. All the elements come together for the amazingness, including the completely out of tune singing. Somehow that just makes it even better. Would be a bit silly to talk about melodies, because they don't really follow conventional scales. Or even unconventional ones. They just break the whole idea of functional harmony. The buildup chorus with those analogue synths is amazing. I want them. The synths, not the idols. Though that might be nice too. Ending is chaotic and then the world explodes. 10/10

2. The Edge of Goodbye. Grunge-esque guitars, then shoegaze-esque guitars on top, then an indie riff. Already clusterfucked. But in a good way. The verse has a sexy guitar sound, the melodies are (this time) in a normal scale, and quite nice. Prechorus is pure sex, very nice ambiences with the vocals. The chorus has a cute vocal melody, but a much cuter little riff underneath. Probably the cutest sounding guitar ever, even in the lower strings. Mid8 isn't that amazing, but works. Then the buildup chorus does without vocals, and just has that cute riff and a bass and chugging and hnnngh. Jizzed a bit. This is an epic song. 10/10

3. D.S.P ~だいすぴッ~. Whenever I see DSP I associate it with "Drunken Skype Party", so that's what I'm calling this song. The intro has some really sexy sustained guitar. The verse has some nice bass, and little guitar patterns with a very nice vocal melody over it. Prechorus continues in the same vein, but the chorus just comes in and wham. You're fucked. Anthemic doesn't even begin to describe it. In a 60s, out of tune way, this could ruin stadiums. Amazing at everything. I think I'm being rather nice to this album. It's just so fucking 60s. Chorus again, jizzing. The guitar whining is just overpowered. The mid-8 is Ash-level in guitar-sex, and then some nice vocals and Hammonds. Hammonds. Everything is better with Hammonds. If I could have sex with any sound, it'd be the sound of Hammonds. Buildup chorus has some fucking Mellotron'd strings. Just how 60s/prog do you need to be? Love this shit so much. 10/10

4. ボクらのWednesday. And the 60s continue. And back to the tuneless vocals, which I love so much. Acoustic guitars are sexy. The chorus is just a clusterfuck of awesome. The melody is so weird it's creepy and awesome. The beat is just weird. And everything else is just 60s. It's like someone threw everything I love in a blender, which smooths out all the heavier edge of my likes and comes out with the most proggy shit ever. They even throw in some structure fuckery and forget to sing the second chorus and go into an extended prechorus instead. Then we get a xylophone solo. Fakjea. Buildup chorus is the creepiest thing I've ever fucking heard. Then random "nyan"s to end. 10/10

5. Shout!!! Sexy acoustic guitars at the beginning, reminds me of an indie band I used to collab with the songwriter from, called french kiss-off. Then we get quite a cool 70s-ish hard rock song. It has some melody and structure, but it's all good. Chord progs and melodies are good, beats are good. Prechorus is cute. Then the chorus is amazing. The missed first beat and then all in on the second beat really makes it quite brutal, in an entirely cute way. The arrangement is lush, and it's all good. The little clusterfucks before the chorus, bass before the first and acoustic guitars before the second, are sweet as anything. The mid-8 has some orchestral hits and drums, then a guitar solo. And a damn sexy one at that. Then it starts duelling with hammonds. Oh yes. 10/10

6. ライスとチューニング. How to even describe this song? Imagine if 80s rappers couldn't be fucked, and rapped about any old random shit that came to their attention. It's like ADHD rapping. Mizuho is the "star", in that she raps with her usual flair for speaking in an incredibly bored voice. It's cute but the randomness level is off the charts. The music, what there is of it, is quite fun, but Mizuho just wins. The chorus is a bit weird, but it's certainly among the most experimental rap songs I've ever heard. It's certainly the worst song on the album so far, but to be fair they've all been amazing and this ain't bad. Mizuho randomly inserting a cross-rhythm in is probably unintentional but is incredibly weird and awesome. Mizuho needs more love. 8/10

7. 夏のアッチェレランド. The name of this song gives me hope. In the beginning there's some awesome jazzy piano. Then it turns into a pop song. That's a turn up for the books. Still, pretty. Even if they are in tune. Some 80s guitar sounds in the verse. It's like they're progressing through the decades. The chorus is pretty as a really pretty thing and I love it. It's the least experimental yet, but still I love it. How bizarre. Mid-8 is pretty nice too. Still, the lack of an actual accelerando is mildly annoying. The buildup chorus is all piano, but win. I'll forgive the lack of accelerando simply because piano solo at the end. 10/10

8. Pleasure ~秘密の言葉~. What a start. Tremolo picked acoustic guitars and synths and then we're back in the 60s. Out of tune again, lends a really nice haunting quality to it. Really draws you in. Acoustic guitars are win. The dulcimers also add a nice touch. The chorus is just so hooked up it's like a drug. It's psychedelic. Like an acid trip with no come down, it's full of awesomeness. So much tremolo picking before the second verse it's like a black metal song. But without the screaming and electric guitars. This does remind me a lot of the whole trve kvlt surf music thing going on at the moment. Taking black metal songs and making them into 60s surf music. It works most of the time, to the extent that Satyricon got Youtube to remove Mother Surfing North. The mid-8 has some more gloriousness. Really win. Again. 10/10

9. サーカス&恋愛相談. The song that got me into them really. The video was full of insanity (the moment I remember most is the crowd storming the stage, and Mizuho ripping off her boot and whacking the fuck out of people with it), but the song itself is by no means sane. More of the circus insanity levels I love so much, reminds me a bit of the first Haken album if it'd been released in the 60s. Again with the haunting melodies that're out of tune, and then a pounding beat that just pummels the weirdness into your skull. I sometimes wish all music were this experimental. Then I realise that people are often just too incapable of comprehending it. The chorus is pretty, in a shouty, weird carnival way. Circus theme between first chorus and second verse that puts me in mind of the quote of the Carousel Waltz at the beginning of Dire Straits' Tunnel of Love. The random synth solo that's only quiet in the left ear in the mid8 is weird but win. Then hammond organs and buildup chorus. YES! I think I love Hammonds too much. Outro is cool. Lots of screaming. 10/10

10. yOUらり. Moogs. Then more psychedelic trippyness. It's basically Pleasure pt2, with more melody. Not that it's a lot of melody, but some. It's also a bit more dull. Probably the worst so far, until the random synth interlude. Regains lots of marks. Still, can't say much I didn't say about Pleasure. It's slower. About the only difference. Solo on the moogs. Wins. Then mellotron flutes in the buildup chorus. This gets points for those, mostly. 8/10

11. Bed Head. The title track. Quite a cute one, more folksy than the prog that's came before. Even an accordion. There's a interlude after the first verse, and then a completely unrelated bit that comes after. Structurally this is fucked up. Bunch of non-flowing normal verse-prechorus-chorus stuff out of the window. Not heard anything remotely like a chorus yet. Go back into the first bit though, so guess the chorus was there, it was just completely... not a chorus. How weird. And then it ends. 2:13. That was fucked up. 10/10

12. ダーリン. Weirdly haunting harpsichords, then haunting vocals and despite the song being called Darling, there's a hint of overly attached girlfriend to it. Then there's some grunge guitars, and another creepy as fuck chorus. Can imagine it being sung by a bunch of yanderes. Still, not the most yandere song I've ever heard. Nothing can ever beat this. The mid-8 has some mellotrons and then some violent bits. Then repeat. But anyway, it's rather good. If it wasn't surrounded by a bunch of fucking amazing songs I'd be jizzing over it like mad. But as it is, it just happens to not quite stack up. Still, I like. 9/10

13. アイスクリーム. There are good songs. There are amazing songs. There are FAKSMs. And then there's this. Aside from the fact that it opens with the greatest chord progression in history and then channels Muse like all shit, the arrangement is so amazing I get shivers all over from its awesomeness. The bass in the beginning of the verse is so deep it's like getting pummelled from behind with a jackhammer. The little piano flourishes are gorgeous. Prechorus adds more guitars and the melodies, for a change are fucking amazing. Why bother being haunting in this song when you can simply be awesome? Then the chorus goes back into the fifths and ruins my balls because I jizzed everywhere. Second part of the chorus is just epic and glorious. If there's any kind of heaven, this is the fucking soundtrack. Random voices after the chorus lead into solo. Then chorus and we're jizzing again. I feel sorry for people listening to this song. It's so good. Their ears will be hard-pressed to ever replace it with something better. Then we get it all done double time in the outro with another little solo and it's glorious and pianos and hnnnnnnnnnngh. Have to do this again. Limit BREAKER! 11/10

14. Teck Teck Walk. I have no fucking idea what that title is supposed to mean either. But violins. Sounds like The Verve or something. Seems with this and Ice Cream we've journeyed to the present. Then they start singing with haunting voices over the top, layered so thickly with reverb one wonders if the producer fell asleep and forgot to change the knob or something. Guitars are sex. Chorus is more haunting with some Alcest-y guitars and no hook whatsoever. Doing that again, I see. Still, slow and hauntingly beautiful. The solo is quite slow but nice. 10/10

15. Wide Mind. Flange. So much flange. And porn music. Then circus-y win. Actually, circus music and fandango and Mexican ska. It's a bit awesome. But then, hasn't this entire fucking album? Once again there's no discernable melody, it's all a bit freeform. Then random genre change to a 60s happy upbeat rock song with a melody and beat and it's all a bit crazy. I have no idea what's going on now, my mind has been broken by the constant onslaught of psychedelia, wonderful delights and insanity and now I'm just in awe at how this song draws together so many disparate elements and pulls it off well. Fakjea. Ends with more porn. 10/10

Overall: Despite this being probably the idol album that has broken my mind through awesomeness the most of all time, I have to be honest. The production on this album is pretty shit. At times it's like they were just given backing tracks and told to make up whatever they liked on top of it. At times the recording quality is so different between the backing track and the vocals it's almost as if they were aiming to create such a divide. With some of the 60s songs they stayed true on the music side of it, and recorded mostly analogue when they could, leaving it nice and pure. Yet the vocals, despite being drowned to fuck in reverb, never seem to meld with the music, they sit just on top. It's a small criticism, but it would have been negated had they tried recording the vocals analogue too. An 8-track doesn't cost that much. Anyway, moaning over. This has the best collection of songs I've ever heard on an idol album. None of them were bad, only in comparison to each other. If I take off the marks for being a slightly lazy production job, it's still the second highest ever idol album I've reviewed. However, this will be rather controversial as it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea. People like me, who like idols, prog, metal and a bunch of even weirder shit, will probably love it. If someone's only into Jpop, or also likes other popular music but doesn't stray much outside of that, it'll be like getting punched in the face by a waiter at a very nice restaurant who then pisses on your dinner and then complains when you don't tip him. Still...



Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku - Chuunin review

What with finding fulltime employment that's rather more fulltime than my last fulltime job, I've found that my time to write blogs (as well as lyrics, music and prose) has decreased substantially. As such, I've been inactive on here and Beats for months. Still, with the end of the year in sight, I've once again got a huge backlog of reviews to sort out. For the first time this year I doubt I'll do any end of year awards post, might just end up being Beats of 2013 for the year's top albums. 

So, Ebichuu. Momoclo's mildly insane little-sister group whose sound is just that little bit more insane simply to compensate. I've spoken previously about how some of their singles enthused me, now it's time for their first original album that isn't a eulogy of their indie days.

Due to the nature of the album, and Ebichuu's "King of Gakugeikai" gimmick, it's structured like a school arts festival would be, with little interludes for a droning speech from a principal, some tuning, and random crap. I'm not counting these as actual songs for the purpose of this review, due to them having no musical merit and yet fitting the theme. I thus compromised by taking them out of the list entirely, thus my score will assume that this is merely a 15 song album.

Preamble: Always did approve of Ebichuu's not so generic utterly insane subculture and completely unrelated to the group in any way covers.

1. Chuning!! A silly, happy intro song that has some interesting chord progressions and not-so-interesting melodies in its brief 49 seconds of existence, but that sets the tone of the album to come quite well. 7/10

2. 仮契約のシンデレラ. The first song of theirs I heard, this song is not only pretty out there, it also has some of the most hilarious and genre-twisting lyrics I've ever heard in an idol song. Starts out with a sexy extended harpsichord intro because harpsichords are sexy. Then we get guitars and pianos and cheerleaders, and Ebichuu's terrible (yet terribly amusing) vocals. And then shouting. The verse melody is quite win. The prechorus melody is even better, along with all the random dialogue all over the bloody place. Also pi in the lyrics. Random. Chorus is nice and upbeat, while the lyrics remain silly. Really sums up the whole appeal of Ebichuu in one song. Insanity, speaking over, through, around and across the singing, with punchy melodies and general winningness. Mid-8 has some crazy synth solo which is epic, then random interlude, then a full-on waltz. Genre bending at its best, that change into 3/4 was lush. Then suddenly returns to chorus. Random but incredibly good start. 10/10

3. 梅. Alas, Hyadain. Starts out with some ambience and sort-of-sung vocal lines with little melodic value, then randomly goes into... well, a Hyadain song. You can even pinpoint exactly where you'd MIX from the first listen. Horns and guitars and everything else is synths. Then we get a jarring little pre-verse which is in a completely different key sig, and the verse follows swiftly with the same chord progression. Also, why the bloke goes from 1 to 3 I don't know. Vocals have improved though, especially in the prechorus. We also get some cool dramatic pauses after two quavers (you know, like the beginning of W's Koi no Fuga) though there's also some guitar whining which is cool. Chorus vocal melodies are pretty good. As a Hyadain song this is pretty good. Still, that clash between the chorus and the preverse is weird. Then rap (and Aiai doing something weird) before second verse. Skips the prechorus and goes into chorus straight away. Should have guessed that from Hyadain. Blaring horn solo. Also to be expected from Hyadain. Then prechorus buildup. Final chorus is cool. Guitar noises in the outro are win. 9/10

4. あたしきっと無限ルーパー. Dance song in my Ebichuu album. Pretty hard hitting club song too, up until dubstep hits. Chord progressions when not dubstepped up are quite good, along with the usual four-to-the-floor beat, syncopated higher pitched synths and decent vocals. Not quite Ebichuu-esque enough with vocals though, need more randomness. Also, everytime the dubstep comes in it seems to rip up my head. Such is dubstep. Mid-8 is pretty experimental for dance music and dubstep though, so it gains some marks back. Also, they keep saying place names and then "Give me GPS!" at the end, which is amusing. 6/10

5. R-O-B-O-C-K. Driving drum beat and then a very 90s chord progression gives us this. Megaphoned vocals lend a slightly grunge feel, though the music isn't grunge in the least. If anything it sounds like a weird mashup between 80s rap beats, Hanson and a twisted idea on noise music. Then we get a random chiptune with choral vocals and random phrases in Japanese that might have come out of Mr Roboto. Really quite out there and I can't really think of what to say. 7/10

6. 高校廃止法案. Random speech by the principal declaring that since High School (高校) doesn't fit into the whole small/medium/big theme of primary school (小学), middle school (中学) and university (大学), high school will be abolished and merged with middle school. Random. Not marked for purposes of this review.

7. 放課後ゲタ箱ロッケンロールMX. Hyadain's back and this time he brought the metal. The screaming at the beginning is win, especially Aiai's. Drums in this are awesome. Double bass drums in idol songs = fakjea. Guitars also damn win. Verse vocals have a nice melody. Lyrics are hilarious, wondering why anyone would steal shoes in this day and age. Preprechorus is quite brutal. Prechorus has the challenge letter, then Aiai lulz. Then chorus. Chorus melody is weak, but the music is so fast and win I pay no attention. Quick solo before second verse is win. Second verse itself is replaced by piano and soft singing, the preprechorus has no prechorus to go after it so it's straight into the chorus. This structural fuckery is why I still like Hyadain even after so many disappointments of late. The mid-8 has a vocal melody which is mirrored in the lyrics by simply calling out which note it is on the solfège, an interesting idea and rather nuts. The guitar solo isn't bad. Could have been longer. Aiai's last chorus buildup is epic, simply because Aiai. Then war at the end. 10/10

8. 大人はわかってくれない. I'm honestly glad they left the other A-side of this single off the album, because it was shit. Even if it was Hyadain. This one is much better. Rock and organs and good chord progs and vocals. Also d-beat on the drums. Underused in idol music. Prechorus is quite anthemic, and then the chorus is even more so. Ebichuu usually can't sing (well, usually is 98% of the time), but here it's turned into their strength. I've found that if you put enough voices in unison that are slightly out of tune, it actually works better for anthemic stuff than having all of them in tune. Unless you happen to be called Freddie Mercury or Hansi Kursch. Middle-8 goes a bit into progressive territory with piano and stuff building into a nice little riff with some harmonies and the like over it. Really quite a nice little song. 9/10

9. 体操. This song is a cover, a very well done cover of a very insane song by a group called YMO. They replaced the piano with synths that make it sound even weirder. This could quite easily go down as one of those songs which fuck with your mind so much they barely even count as idol music anymore, like 9nine's Nemurero Mori no Shoujo, Pucchimoni's Pucchimobics 2 and Melon Kinenbi's sweet suicide summer story. Still, just for causing my brain to squee in joy at the fact that it pays no heed to conventional modes or harmony, it's getting this. 10/10

10. 禁断のカルマ. Organs. Harpsichords. Guitars. Sex. Vocal melodies are also pretty damn win, but the arrangement is where this excels. The prechorus is especially win, with Aiai calling out to drink one's "passionate redness". Ah, vampires. Such a lacking lyrical theme in idol music. The chorus is incredibly long, and consists of two distinct parts. Makes a change. Such power in Aiai's voice. Dammit. I went much more in depth on this song over at Beats when it first came out so I'll spare you the highly musical terminology. Still, damn sweet song. 10/10

11. 誘惑したいや. More pop than most of this album, it begins with a decent chord prog with synths and a catchy as fuck little hook. The verse has a nice bassline, and a good little vocal melody. Guitars enter and make it a bit more interesting. Prechorus has another nice little melody that leads perfectly into the chorus, which, aside from the shaky as fuck vocals, is really quite win. Once again proving me right regarding lots of mildly out of tune voices being better than lots of in tune voices. Second verse has a minimalist beginning, then goes back into it normally rather than pulling a Hyadain and going into some different dimension entirely. The mid-8 is all wall-of-sound with hundreds of overdubbed vocal tracks surrounding and being quite epic actually, mashing up nicely with the main little vocal line. Then bass and piano buildup. Synths and niceness then draw us eventually through more and more buildup that crescendos into the final chorus. Really quite intriguing twist on Ebichuu's structural fuckery. Quite a glorious little track. 9/10

12. チューニング真っ最中. Tongue twisters.

13. いい湯かな? I see the length of this track and shiver. 8 whole minutes. Could this be a prog epic? Could it be an sonic experiment? Could it be doom metal? The answer is, unfortunately, no. It's an incredibly slow ballad. 80bpm, to be specific. The pianos and melodies are nice, but the lyrics are silly. Basically the chorus just asks various people whether they're having a good bath. Reminds me a bit of the Sakugaku graduation ballads, just without quite so much in the way of musical accomplishment. I could do with some call and response, for a start. The arrangement is rather lush though. The middle-8 has some interesting key usage, but yea. Still just a normal ballad, and the only reason it's so long is because it's so slow. 7/10

14. 手をつなごう. I'm not a massive fan of this song. The melodies are pretty boring, the arrangement is insipid, and it's full of the same kind of lackingness that defined the period when I hated on Tsunku for his bullshit weedy synths (like on Onna ga Medatte Naze Ikenai). The arrangement is somehow empty. There's bass. There are synths (that are weedy). There's a bassdrum and some clapping. But nothing that approaches a good hook, nothing that approaches complexity. Nothing that even approaches anything musically interesting. Worst song on the album yet. 3/10

15. 中人Dance Music. Disco time. Pretty much everything here is as it should be in the genre. Could probably attribute it to any disco artist and people wouldn't raise an eyebrow. Therefore, it becomes problematic. Ebichuu are supposed to fuck with genres, not do sincere tributes to them. Everything's good, it's a damn good disco song. I like a bit of disco, and I like this. But as an Ebichuu song, I at least want them to randomly insert something ridiculous and bizarre into it. Still, as a song I like. 7/10

16. 頑張ってる途中. This is a better song that's upbeat, unlike that Te wo Tsunagou crap. Some brassband giving niceness. Pianos and bass in the verse with an interesting melody. No shitty synths. Harmonies in the prechorus, nice change. Chorus melody isn't amazing, but it's not bad. Bass in this song is actually quite proficient. I like. Mid-8 has some good ska-esque elements, then some random rap bits. Quite fun. 8/10

17. あるあるフラダンス. Hawaiian aloha thing for a closer. Ukelele is fun. Little guitar lines also pretty. Vocally and lyrically it's quite amusing. Musically it does actually have something it reminds me of, coming at the end of an album and being completely at odds with everything else that came before it. Kinniku Shoujotai randomly put Shinjin Band no Theme at the end of the Shinjin album which was basically the same but without the ukelele. Still, good. 7/10

Overall: Started out strongly, and whilst it tailed off a bit towards the end, it's still not a bad album. The length is a bit too long, and obviously the theme of the Gakugeikai was probably a bit much, but it worked. Hopefully the next album has some better oversight, and cuts out some of the crap to let the better material shine through.