Review Summary: Fun and giddy, Pre-School's second full length album proves to be their strongest yet, with little-to-no major flaws.
One of the most iconic bands in Japan's indie pop universe, Pre-School was originally a bubbly, electro pop punk band with an addictive sugary center, which at times sounded like Scottish indie gods Bis. As time went on, however, Pre-School evolved into a straightforward alternative act, and lost much of its original charming innocence in the mix. In 1998, Pre-School released their second full length album, "Peace Pact", which whimsically concocted their original brilliant display of bubbly pop and punk, along with some minor alternative elements as well.
The album's opening track, "Manhood-Man", catapults the listener straight into the Pre-School trenches with a rocky verse melody, and a maniacally catchy chorus to crank its potential to the max. This is where the similarities between Pre-School and Scotland's Bis trio first start to surface, and with Bis's knack of churning out ridiculously catchy tunes with a punky overtone, that is definitely not a bad thing. "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" is a fantastic alternative-driven song, driven primarily by chugging synths. "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" tones down the pop punk introduction a tad, and reflects somewhat to their future style, which would be mainly following an alternative-based, with little punk added to the mix at all (not counting their 2003 album "Dancing in the Sun", which was a drastic change in style, and was entirely electropop). "Fat Man Thin Man" is a cult track on the album, and is one of the cutesy songs on the album. With quirky synth stabs embedded into a bubbly pop punk laced track, "Fat Man Thin Man" does a wonderful job at orchestrating Pre-School's knack of blending mainstream pop, with a more traditional indie pop foreground. "Fat Man Thin Man" would eventually lay the foundation of brilliant electronic pop punk tracks to come, as shown on tracks like "Spunky Josh". Following right after "Spunky Josh", "A Sad Song", is without a doubt the album's finest moment. Starting off with adrenaline rushing frantic keyboards and lo-fi guitar squeals, frontman Akira Owada does a brilliant job at ambitiously jogging beside the lovely and chaotic piece of indie pop goodness. Undoubtedly the most memorable moment on the album, "A Sad Song" is anything but what the title implies.
Although it may have only been their second album, "Peace Pact", with its highly optimistic tone, is easily Pre-School's best work. Sugary and sweet, with just the right timing at around 41 minutes, the album doesn't wear its stay either, and does its damndest to bash the listener senseless with a playful and ultimately delightful audial experience. With albums such as "Peace Pact" and "Nueva York", it is absolutely no wonder why Pre-School are so highly regarded in the Japanese indie scene.