Review Summary: Introduce Me To Your Family
When Otoboke Beaver played in London last week, several small details stood out to me; the mosh pit had the highest concentration of smiles of any gig I’ve seen, whenever frontwoman Accorinrin’s English rapport faltered in between songs, guitarist Yoyoyoshie (who wore her strap unusually high) would step in with a tried-and-tested howl of “WE ARE OTOBOKE BEAVER”
, and (of course) my friend and I both crushed hugely on bassist Hiro-chan. What is most surprising to me, however, is how I can still remember any of this after such a such a devastatingly proficient and sensationally entertaining performance. Language barrier notwithstanding, the band played a stormer of a set that got people dancing, screaming and grinning with just the kind of wholesome intensity I’d hoped they’d inspire. I had no idea what size of crowd a hardcore girl group from Kyoto would draw in the UK at this point in their career, and I bought my ticket on the understanding that I might be one of the only people dancing in an otherwise static, underattended room.
I should never have doubted, however, because Itekoma Hits
, Otoboke Beaver’s new album, is a punk firestorm that strikes an instant accessibility while never sounding less than blisteringly energetic. It’s slick, fast, angry, unpredictable and - above all - stupendously fun in a way that was always bound to get a good crowd together and on their feet. This album is a straight-up thrill that never lets up in the slightest throughout its half-hour runtime. The band’s knack for trading repetitive chants and riffs against off-kilter quirks translates well into their concise model of songwriting; there’s a lot going on here for a punk four-piece, but they present it very clearly and the result is delightfully infectious.
What really marks these girls out from the pack is the staggering level of precision they bring to the table. Guitarist Yoyoyoshie is a particular standout, showing off a real knack for unconventional licks and accents that nod towards the Melt-Banana school of textural guitar stylings as they do the basics of three-chord hardcore, but the whole band maintain a high standard of tight musicianship throughout this album. Impressive as their chops are, the best part is how they weave them into the songwriting: these songs are full of off-kilter punctuations and stop-start dynamics that are executed within a heartbeat. The band know their craft and channel these into a fierce, unpredictable sense of momentum that is fractured and restored at their whim, giving Itekoma Hits
a rare crossover appeal between intensity- and experimentally- inclined audiences. Their music has a range of adventurous ideas, but all of them are directed towards the facets of punk that made it so exciting and fun to begin with. It’s this sense that translated especially well live (and applies equally in studio): Otoboke Beaver play unapologetically ferocious music in a way that feels more welcoming than it does aggressive. They’re a sure-fire hit for fans of the genre, but also the rare kind of ‘heavy’ band that many listeners of different tastes will likely find enjoyable; there’s something fun and wholesome in the band’s thunder and fury that comes across quite distinctly.
It helps that their tracks are very consistent, which is critical to making Itekoma Hits
the blast it is; it’s not a highlight album in the slightest, and it’s something of a wasted effort to pick out which tracks are better or worse. The standouts, then, are the songs that show slightly more stylistic divergence: Introduce Me To Your Family
springs to mind as the grooviest thing here, while 6 day working week is a pain
squeezes what feels like an unlikely hardcore epic into just under three minutes. At the end of the day, however, the qualities of this album are sufficiently face-value that anyone not consumed by the perceived novelty of four Japanese women playing breakneck punk with frequent English language lyrics will likely find a lot to enjoy here.