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.


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