Review Summary: The Year of Boris: Great start, excellent execution, but a little shaky on the landing.
It’s been a hell of a year for Japanese metal outfit, Boris. Starting things off with a bang, the band released a split with noise artist Merzbow, entitled Klatter
. The band then revealed a surprising move to release not one, but three separate and distinct albums, all within the calendar year. New Album
(indicative of the jarringly new direction the band took) started things off with quite a bang, featuring a poppier, less metal influenced Boris. If that weren’t enough, the band released Heavy Rocks
, the spiritual successor to, well, Heavy Rocks
. Now, with their final(") 2011 release, have Boris proved that this truly is the year of Boris"
Well, yes and no.
Although released on the same day as Heavy Rocks
, Attention Please
is technically regarded as their latest release, and their seventeenth studio album. Said album is in no way a bad piece of music, but it sees the band stray so far from their comfort zone, that it ultimately falls flat. This may seem strange, as Boris really isn’t known to have a comfort level, as the band is no stranger to outlandish experimentation. However, lack of energy found in Attention Please
is a big hindrance, as any one will tell you that energy and passion are two things Boris have always had in spades.
The passive nature of the entire work is most notably from one surprising aspect—Wata. Attention Please
sees Wata as the album’s leading lady, for the first time mind you. Her pleasant, soft vocals were actually a standout earlier this year, as she lent them on a few tracks in New Album
. Yet those lovely little flourishes don’t fare so well when stretched out over an entire album. To put it simply, Wata isn’t a lead vocalist. Too often does she float on aimlessly, letting her subtle charm carry her across a four or five minute song. Unfortunately, Wata just cannot sustain any sort of intrigue, and added to that, the subdued nature of the music really points to flaws in her voice.
Yet there is more here than Wata’s disappointingly sub-par vocals. Per the usual, Boris prove to be more then competent musicians, as Attention Please
really offers up a pleasant listening experience. However, the experience is marred by an overall inconsistent presentation. The songs themselves have no flow or continuity to them, and they come off as a sort of random jumble of assorted genres, ranging from shoegaze to hard-rock. On paper it sounds pretty great, because as stated previously, Boris are definitely no strangers to experimentation. However, it’s clear that the band were out of their element, with every little experiment coming off as either contrived or half-assed.
All things aside, Attention Please
has some pretty good songs with some surprisingly great re-listen value. “Party Boy” and “Hope” have been ported over from New Album
, and whilst being copies, they are still really excellent tracks. “Tokyo Wonder Land” sees the band stepping into more psychedelic territory, something they are rather accustomed to by now. It’s really a chill song, and Wata’s sparingly vocals actually fit the song perfectly. “You” is another song that, while fairly subtle and subdued, creates a nice, dense atmosphere. Following this is an actually surprising standout, as “Aileron” is short, sweet, and beautiful song. It’s purely acoustic, but it creates a wonderfully lovely melody that acts as a great interlude. However, songs like “See you Next Week” and “Spoon” just completely miss the mark. Bland, tepid, and uninteresting, they really hurt the overall presentation.
Boris, despite displaying some truly excellent musicianship, have disappointed with their seventeenth record, Attention Please
. In a way, the completely bizarre shift in musical direction is sort of indicative of the band almost begging for attention, as the album is so jarring and so outlandish, that it seems like the band is simply trying way too hard. Regardless, there is a decent listening experience buried here somewhere, but it’s up to the listener to decide whether or not it’s worth the time and effort to uncover it.