Review Summary: Knee-deep in commercialized sludge, OOPARTS gives little reason not to listen to a better Pillows record.
Someone at Avex doesn't think very much of their audience: "Hey, let's dress a trio of middle-aged rockers as cowboys and depict them speeding down the road in some sort of cow-mobile!" But you could pretty much accuse The Pillows of the same thing at this point. The sensation the band must've felt at that photo shoot - of being told to do sorta-weird stuff - lends a similarly aloof, dreamlike feel to the music, and not really in a good way.
Might as well get the good news out of the way: OOPARTS is definitely better than the loathsomely commercial and bland Pied Piper. But it's not very much better. It's not a great sign when the best thing that comes to mind about the middling opening track "Dance With God" is how parts of it remind the listener a little bit of 2004's Good Dreams. The hooks all go in one ear and out the other, a common problem with the album.
On the other hand, The Pillows still have it in them to do something sort-of-weird and make it work. "Your Order" is a much better take on the off-kilter, playful songs the band had been attempting (usually unsuccessfully) since 2003. It's got some weird hooks, but at least it's memorable, and actually succeeds at being fun, and proof the band can still write a fun and energizing single. Good luck remembering what the the next three songs sound like, though, as they're just as unmemorable as the opening track.
The Pillows still have the capability of writing some really great, earnest songs, even at the nadir of their Avex days. "Beyond The Moon" is easily the best track on the record, a powerful ballad with some great guitar hooks that would've been at home in the latter half of My Foot. The only thing detracting from the song is the poppy production and Yamanaka's too-distorted rhythm guitar, but these are nitpicks. "Ameagari ni Mita Maboroshi" is more subtle, a languid ballad reminiscent of the late 90s output, but sounds pretty similar to "Scarecrow" from just a few years earlier. At least it manages to be memorable.
Unfortunately, the rest of the album is about as bland as it gets. The only song that even remotely stands out is Primer Beat, which sounds like it could've been from Moon Gold or White Incarnation, updated with The Pillows' typical style of punchy alt-rock, but it's still not a terribly memorable song. The best that can really be said for OOPARTS is that it's less offensively banal than Pied Piper, but that's still not much. Save two or three songs, there's absolutely no reason to listen to this record when there are other albums in The Pillows' discography that do all of this stuff much, much better.