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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...

9.5/10

1 comments:

  1. Thank you for writing this great review! This is my favorite idol album of all time...

    "Teck teck walk" probably means てくてく歩く, since that's what they seem to be singing... Nice mix of very similar strings and percussion of The Verbe's "Bitter Sweet Symphony" and the vocals and guitars of the average Sigur Rós song.

    I think in a interview with the man behind this group I read a while ago, he said he wanted to make music like The Verbe, Sigur Rós, Muse and The Beatles... And you can easily tell he kind of just ripped off some songs by these bands.

    Still, I can't wait to hear more stuff from this group. And not only their music is amazing, but their live performances and most of the members are too. Mizuho is the cutest idol in the world and she's kind of insane; her faces in this video melt my heart: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Pko3jvxYZk

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