REVIEW: PERFUME- PLASMA

Being a Perfume fan for the last few years has been, to say the least, a little rocky. The last two albums, Cosmic Explorer and FUTURE POP, respectively, have mostly felt like treading water, or in the case of the latter, a flawed attempt at taking on what was trendy in pop music at the time. In fact, it was really starting to look like the brain behind the group, Yasutaka Nakata had finally ran out of steam.

PLASMA marks one of the longest breaks between Perfume albums (albeit a best of and EP have come in-between), but in that time, Yasutaka Nakata has gone through a remarkable change. As many people have commented (including the great Patrick St. Michel), if anyone has benefited from the pandemic, it’s been Nakata. I already found his work on Kyary Pamyu Pamyu‘s sorely underrated 2018 album Japamyu a promising sign of a return to form, but this record has truly cemented it. It feels like Nakata has shed the need to stay hyper-relevant and ever expanding his appeal (by now he’s definitely peaked) and has finally settled on creating shorter, well thought out bodies of work that play as a whole album rather than a collection of massive bops.

And so, PLASMA indeed is the album I’ve (we’ve???) been waiting on since, well, JPN. The production here is absolutely wonderful, Nakata has put care into every facet of the soundstage. Instead of bringing in modern sounds as a new influence, he looks inward and brings out slices from his entire catalogue. The most outward sound he has brought in here is an older one- a splash of truly well constructed and blended city pop, that doesn’t feel gimmicky or trend hopping at all.

As far as the vocal work of Perfume themselves, it’s as good as always, I’ll never tire of their harmonizing which is as charming as the first day I heard the group. They still have an uncanny ability of being able to adapt whatever is thrown their way, and do it with earnest. This really goes a long way and has definitely attributed to their long career. PLASMA is no exception in that regard.

In an album that opts to keep a vibe running for it’s entire length like this, it’s hard to really pick favourite tracks, but I must point out “Spinning World” being one of the grooviest tracks under Perfume’s belt in a long, long time. It blew my mind the first time I heard it and the more I listen, the more it’s little details reveal themselves. “Flow” is absolutely beautiful, and the six minute “Drive’n The Rain” is an absolutely smooth earworm that I can’t stop listening to. However, there’s no way to spin it, I can’t find any duds in this album’s playlist, I adore it so.

Overall, this is the highest standard Perfume record in almost a decade for me. I am holding my breath for it to eventually get a vinyl pressing, and see myself keeping it on repeat for a long, long time. Just when I was starting to think 2022 was going to be the slowest year for Japanese pop for me to date, this gorgeous record drops and saved the day.

Welcome back, Perfume.

9/10

REVIEW: PERFUME- PLASMA

REVIEW: JAGUAR JONZE- BUNNY MODE

Deena Lynch‘s personal life in the tumultuous last few years has been rocky to say the least; from being a strong advocate the #metoo movement in Australian music, coming *SO* close to being our Eurovision candidate (the winner in my heart) and finally, setback upon setback leading up to this albums launch. With all that in mind, to say it’s an important release is a major understatement. The debut full length, BUNNY MODE embodies an entire being, a project so full of personality and personal experience that it will take more than one listen to fully appreciate it’s weight and significance.

Opening track “KNOW MY NAME” sets the stage vividly, with its swirling build-up to an overwhelming climax. This is Deena letting you know that she’s not fucking around. Her vocals are haunting, and delivered with such heart-breaking earnest that it brings goose bumps. Hairs will stand up, and then with a massive axe swing, she’ll kick into her roar that always, always blows minds. The tone is set for the rest of the album here, and it becomes apparent that this record is not one to be taken lightly.

From there, Deena and her band take us through a dizzying array of rock bangers, glitzy electronic fueled bops and heartbreaking power ballads, all straight from the soul. There’s nothing here at all that feels out of place, and all work tightly together to deliver one of the strongest explorations of personal identity, industry accountability and critiques on fetishisation and male gaze this decade. All while knocking your socks off with the brilliantly catchy songwriting and hooks we’ve come to expect from Jaguar Jonze. The entire band here is on point, the production impeccable. This is the rock album of the year.

Personal song highlights were the aforementioned “KNOW MY NAME”, the groovy “DRAWING LINES”, Eurovision entry ballad “LITTLE FIRES” (it never fails to make me tear up) and what I consider Jaguar Jonze’s most intense song to date- the aptly titled “LOUD” which has a message and chorus that just explodes in your face. Overall, an album with no skips, that you will keep on repeat for weeks, hell months. Don’t miss BUNNY MODE, Deena Lynch’s ultimate expression of her world yet.

REVIEW: JAGUAR JONZE- BUNNY MODE

REVIEW: JUN TOGAWA + SHINICHI YAMAGUCHI- TOGAWA JUN NO DOYOU SHOUKA

As a Jun Togawa fan, it’s always special when something drops, as it has become very far and few between releases. Not that it’s a problem- she has left a 40+ year legacy behind her. This time though, her album feels incredibly intimate- and that is because it literally is.

These songs mostly appeared on her YouTube show (a revival of her 80s column “Jun Togawa’s Life Advice” in Takarajima Magazine) that she started with Shinichi Yamaguchi as a response to the pandemic. The punchline to each episode is her singing a traditional children’s song with harsh Yapoos (of which Shinichi is the keyboardist) style electronic backing. This then was compiled together and creates “Togawa Jun no Doyou Shouka” (or “Jun Togawa’s Nursery Rhymes“) – which for the hardcore fans, is an absolute blessing.

Despite it being mostly covers of children’s songs, make no mistake, this feels like the first ‘proper’ Jun Togawa album since ‘Togawa Fiction‘ due to the amount of material never before recorded on any other release. While most songs on here barely reach the two minute mark; it doesn’t matter, they’re all so complete that it’s satisfying.

It rushes by but it feels whole- Togawa’s inflections really holding the listener under her spell. These are some of her best vocals in over a decade. Yamaguchi’s keyboard work absolutely showcases the man’s years of experience and talent. Production is beautifully DIY and crunchy, to the point that if it had been cleaned up a little, a lot of it’s charm would be lost.

Ultimately, Togawa Jun no Doyou Shouka serves as more a gift from Togawa to her lifelong fans- an album made through a pandemic that speaks to it’s listeners through both nostalgia (especially for Japanese natives) and arrangements that could fit rightly on a Yapoos record.

It’s not an album that’s been recorded for mass sales (hell you can only get it by purchasing from her website directly- which, by the way is finally open to international orders -something we can probably thank Jun Togawa’s recent TikTok fame for). It’s a passion project that comes off with the sincerest earnest. With the YouTube show still being recorded, it won’t be surprising if we see more of this album format, which to be honest, is one of the most refreshing records to come from the situation.

I honestly can’t give this one a score, you will know whether it’s for you by it’s description. However, for the Jun Togawa fans, it’s a no brainer, get on this once in a blue moon release now!

REVIEW: JUN TOGAWA + SHINICHI YAMAGUCHI- TOGAWA JUN NO DOYOU SHOUKA

DEADGRANDMA’S BEST OF 2021: 5-1

5. TEKE::TEKE- Shirushi

TEKE::TEKE’s Shirushi was a random find that became a big part of my musical year. An awesome Canadian band that reaches that Japanese/Western rock fusion level without ever crossing over into cheese or hamfistedness. The seven piece have a very focussed and proven knowledge of 60s and 70s psychedelia, surf rock and Japanese folk music. With a barrage of cascading flutes, impressive drumming and traditional Japanese instrumentation, this was an instant love for me. It’s of course all led by an amazing vocalist in the form of Maya Kuroki, who brings the drama of Enka music with a steady rock growl to the forefront. If you’ve ever dug this kinda stuff before (Maron Hamada fans might wanna tune in), TEKE::TEKE did it the best in 2021.

4. Black Country, New Road- For the First Time

This is an achievement and a half. Holy fuck is this a debut most artists would kill for. An absolute triumph in instrumentation, tone, and lyricism by a group that are incredibly young overall (when this was recorded most of them had just hit 20). The seven piece show a great sense of understanding of each other, they play off each other like seasoned professionals. Led by Isaac Wood’s distinctive croon, the band are masters of the crescendo and sense of anxious unnerve. The overall sense of self awareness and a bleak outlook for the future strikes a chord with all late era millenials and Gen-Z’ers. The second hand embarassment you feel for the narrator’s stories of trying to impress or live up to family/social expectations are as real as it gets. It’s an amazingly honest listen, and to think its a debut album is even more impressive. Amazing, if you’ve missed this one, make sure you rectify that as soon as you can!

3. Jaguar Jonze- ANTIHERO

Jaguar Jonze (Deena Lynch) has really become a big part of my life this year. After being a little late to her debut EP, Diamonds and Liquid Gold, I still managed to catch her on the leadup to this amazing followup, including the priviledge of seeing her live. ANTIHERO, as said in my full review, is a very personal record, the amount of struggles and hardship Deena has put herself through to finally get this EP out is overwhelming. It’s personal as all heck, it cuts deep, rocks damn hard, and yet still is catchy and addictive enough to keep you sucked in. It has also become a very personal work to me, it has been amazing to see this artist grow and fight for what she believes in, and all of that frustration, anguish and most importantly- healing is on show here with one of the most important Australian releases in a long time. Jaguar Jonze, you have a stan.

2. Pom Pom Squad- Death of a Cheerleader

I found Pom Pom Squad randomly via YouTube algorithm recommendation, but as soon as I opened the video for “Head Cheerleader” I knew that I’d come across a band that really, really knew what they were doing. Sure, this is a full on nostalgia driven love letter, but I grew up in the era that the group is inspired by (mostly 90s alternative) and unlike a lot of modern groups that attempt this; they nailed it perfectly. I absolutely adore and respect their cheerleader image, it’s so fucking perfect for the sound of their music. The irony and cheeky self awareness whilst being personal and authentic is quite a feat. Vocalist/songwrite Mia Berrin pushes her adoration of 90s angst (both film and music) on this album in exciting directions, the sounds bounce around without ever leaving that sphere. For old people like me, it’s fucking beautiful to hear these sounds resurrected and still played with in a modern context. The band are playful and punchy, and Mia’s vocals are excellent, sweet but growly at the same time. This band understood the project and delivered in spades. Fucking great.

1. AUDREY NUNA- a liquid breakfast

AUDREY NUNA’s debut album really crept up and stuck its claws in me this year. It’s one of them that slowly reveal themselves to be way more than you initially thought they were on first listen. There’s a real intricacy and mindful approach to her take on hip hop and it’s really become one of the most spun albums in my home. As a rapper, she has an amazing flow and vicious, pointed lyrics that take aim and never, ever miss. Whether it be ripping into societal beauty standards, embracing people talking shit or exploring her Korean heritage as an American. It all hits, with a cheeky, self aware playfulness that is both biting and undeniably inviting. You really get behind her, and the beats themselves are fucking amazing.

However, it’s when Audrey slows things down that the true gold shines. The second half of the album is a short set of gorgeous, intricate R&B tracks that really show off her vocal strengths. They really resonated with me through the pandemic, that sense of exhaustion really comes through. Even when the songs aren’t something I am going through, she shows a real sense of worldliness beyond her years and it’s impossible to ignore. Audrey has given us a wonderful, solid release with replay value out the nose. This is my favourite record of the year and I look forward to watching Audrey grow further as an artist. Fantastic.

DEADGRANDMA’S BEST OF 2021: 5-1

DEADGRANDMA’S BEST OF 2021: 10-6

10. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu- Candy Racer

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s return album was a blazer, with her exploring new territory throughout. It goes harder than she’s ever gone before, with Yasutaka Nakata finding his mojo again after years of averageness. Goodbye future-bass! Candy Racer is still super cute, but it feels the most measured it’s ever been- it never becomes grating, and her vocals are balanced really well. Infact, I’d say this is Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s greatest album to date with a bitter irony- it’s also her lowest selling. Still, don’t be a fool and miss out on this beautiful gem, this is the best Jpop album of 2021!

9. Macie Stewart- Mouth Full of Glass

Macie Stewart’s first solo full length is a gentle, perhaps initially perplexing record that really plays with layers and lends a real sense of peering in to an artist’s work. It’s one of the most interesting folk releases I have heard in many years, and it’s interesting to hear where Macie takes these songs instrumentally, often to places of absurd beauty. If you are a fan of OHMME, this cannot be missed, but a newcomer with any kind of interest in folk or indie music will really find a lot to gnaw on with this somewhat hidden gem release.

8. Indigo De Souza- Any Shape You Take

Indigo De Souza’s album begins by giving you a false sense of security, with the beautiful pop track ’17’. But things take a dive for the harder edge shortly after, with a record that has a great sense of anxiousness, anger and overall, overcoming a life blow (whether that be the end of a relationship, a loss, emotional/mental anguish or something life altering). While the main bulk of tracks have a harder edge, they’re also very warm and beautiful. It’s hard not to be reminded of earlier PJ Harvey albums, but that’s not to say that Indigo De Souza doesn’t have her own distinct voice either, she’s so multefaceted it would be impossible to pigeonhole her. And on that, it becomes one of the deepest and rewarding pop rock experiences of the year.

7. Tori Amos- Ocean to Ocean

Tori Amos’ Native Invader was a return to form for her after quite a long run of middling records. This latest creation, Ocean to Ocean continues and expands on that trend and is probably her best work since the monumental Scarlet’s Walk. There isn’t a single song I skip on this album, it showcases all the facets of what makes up Tori Amos as both a person and a brand. There’s no mistaking who this album is by and for longterm fans, this is going to be a godsend. It has some of her best lyricism in a long while, and the piano work is top tier. Excellent.

6. Rainbow Chan- Stanley

Rainbow Chan’s amazing new EP is a fairly recent release, but it’s so full of storytelling and vision that it has an instant classic feel to it. A perfect amalgamation of traditional Canto-pop (inspired by old mixtapes her grandmother used to make) and modern production, Rainbow Chan further deepens her hold on her listeners with this gripping, emotional whirlwind of a release. Her most personal record to date, this one is definitely a must hear. A wonder.

DEADGRANDMA’S BEST OF 2021: 10-6

DEADGRANDMA’S BEST OF 2021: 15-11

15. Emma Ruth Rundle- Engine of Hell

The starkest, most personal work to date by Emma Ruth Rundle, it will absolutely shake your foundations with it’s honesty. After her heavy as hell collab with Thou last year, Emma’s return to her solo work has taken a sharp left turn for the stark and minimal. Most songs are accompanied by a sole piano or guitar, with Emma truly bearing her soul for the entire runtime. Another essential album and another layer of Emma to unravel for longterm fans. Don’t miss it!

14. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis- CARNAGE

After a long history of soundtrack work together, it is not suprise that Nick Cave and Warren Ellis would finally release an album proper. And what an album- this one’s a ripper. Deviating from the mellow trilogy of recent Bad Seeds albums, this album takes a more playful and experimental approach, its rougher around the edges, more electronic based. Moments of intensity not seen in a long time from any Nick Cave release balance out with it’s moments of immense beauty. It’s definitely one of the most interesting releases of 2021, and definitely one worth picking up for Nick Cave fans.

13. Converge and Chelsea Wolfe- Blood Moon I

Converge’s latest album is proof a band can be around for 20 years plus and still stay fresh. This time, they are joined by the likes of Chelsea Wolfe and Stephen Brodsky. Both of them artists styles can be heard in the overall style. Yet the old Converge still lurks behind the behemoth tracks. It’s slower, heavier and more doomy than ever before. Chelsea Wolfe’s vocals match really well with Jacob Bannon’s despite the unlikeliness. All these artists respect and play off each other so well- it’s the true potential of what a supergroup of well established acts can bring. Let’s hope there’s a Blood Moon II in the future!

12. St. Vincent- Daddy’s Home

St. Vincent’s beatifully ugly deconstruction of 70s tropes is one of the years most exciting records to behold. It really feels bigger than the sum of it’s parts, Annie has really delved in and made a true conceptual work of art here. It’s best to listen to as a whole rather than choosing any tracks in particular. At it’s best moments it sounds like a more fucked up version of Pink Floyd, where nostalgia plays with the ugly truth of the time. Both beautiful and horrible, Daddy’s Home is amazing.

11. Seiko Oomori- PERSONA # 1

Seiko Oomori has released SO much work in 2021, and I decided to pick just one of them. She had three major albums, ZOC’s “PvP”, MAPA’s “Shintenno” and this work, her solo self covers album “PERSONA #1”. PvP is excellent, but it’s hard to separate the icky drama going on with that group at the moment, and Shintenno is full of potential but hasn’t left as big an impression as a PERSONA #1 did for me. PERSONA #1 is a fun release because I have always thought Seiko Oomori has given some of her most amazing tracks to artists that couldn’t pull it off as well as Seiko ever could- so here is a collection of those songs reclaimed. The most fun part though, is Seiko has clearly made a far less serious work than usual and messed around with genres she wouldn’t usually touch- and it’s ultimately quite thrilling to listen to. It’s not perfect but damn was it addictive!

Best of 2021: 20-16

DEADGRANDMA’S BEST OF 2021: 15-11

DEADGRANDMA’S BEST OF 2021: 20-16

Everyone knows how these things work, but I will preface with a warning to not expect too much Japanese music in this year’s list. For me it has been a very, very slow year in that regard. However, in other places, it has been absolutely wonderful, and many of the acts that have made this year’s cut are new discoveries, which is quite exciting! Anyway, with that out of the way:

20. Tokyo Jihen- Music

Tokyo Jihen’s return album was definitely the best release Shiina Ringo has been involved with in over a decade. It’s fun, has some catchy songs and overall feels like a secondary album to Adult- all good things. It’s a damn shame it didn’t have more replay value overall, else it woulda charted higher. Still, it’s undeniable that this is a quality work and definitely one of the best surprises I had all year after my initial reservations on early previews.

19. Halsey- If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power

Halsey’s NIN produced concept album is very large and epic in scale, has some excellent detours and new sounds for the artist, and her vision is realised. It’s quite weighty though, and is more of a record that is a ‘mood’ album to me than something I found myself playing over and over. Still, it’s the best work Halsey has ever put out and it definitely is exciting to hear her show her potential even more.

18. Genghis Tron- Dream Weapon

Genghis Tron’s first album in over a decade was a really pleasant surprise for me early this year. It kept that electronic/hardcore mix style but build upon it and felt like a much more mature work than they’d ever put out before. Songs were longer, build-ups more thought out. It’s exciting and beautifully produced, I would definitely recommend this to fans of the band, or people who want to hear a band that had a great idea come back fully formed after a decade of silence.

17. CHAI- WINK

Chai’s latest album was a pretty big shift in sound, and makes their international debut. It’s a pretty damn cool album and was one of the earliest records of the year to really gain some traction. A fun, breezy listen that goes for a more mellow/rap/R&B sound over CHAI’s older punk sound. With guests such as Ric Wilson, Mndsgn and YMCK behind it, it’s definitely an album that will warrant a lot of repeat listens. Definitely one of the better Japanese pop releases of 2021.

16. Deb Never- Where Have All The Flowers Gone

Deb Never’s EP this year has been one of the most healing records I have come across. There isn’t a single skip on the entire thing and each song packs a different, relatable emotional punch that has been very therapuetic over 2021. The big highlight track here is the gorgeous, powerful jam ‘Sorry’ that anybody that’s ever been through a breakup or been with someone that turned out to be wrong for them will instantly be familiar with and wanna sing along to. It’s cathartic. The only thing I wish is that I had this release in my 20s!

DEADGRANDMA’S BEST OF 2021: 20-16

REVIEW: PUFFY- THE PUFFY

THE PUFFY is a triumphant, exhilarating return from one of the most iconic duos in J-pop history. You won’t be able to NOT smile listening to this short, sweet trip of pop punk, timeless vocals, fantastic guitar work that just pops and the nostalgic feelings for the golden era of Japanese pop rock that this album brings crashing to the forefront. If you’re not bopping along to the bouncy hooks, you might just be uttering an audible ‘awww’.

This album really affected me a lot more strongly than usual, it felt like a pick me up on a bad day, or a cup of hot chocolate on a winter’s night. I’m sure the nostalgia berries are working in it’s favour; but simultaneously, PUFFY have never really aimed to be more than the sum of their parts. Surprisingly this approach has kept them fresh and this return album is no different. They really work with familiarity in a way that is sublime.

It’s not to say that the entire album is traditional pop punk- PUFFY here have also introduced some more modern sounds to mix things up (electronic beats, trap, even a tinge of Kpop), but their old school sensibilities really are the glue that holds the album together. It’s nice to see this balanced reached, without sacrificing any of the identity that have made them so beloved with fans over their career. Other styles they touch on range from 60s surf rock and SKA, right up to the closer- a really cute showtune that absolutely hits all the right spots.

Production is excellent all across the board, the album really shines, instruments are all really well balanced and the vocals are recorded perfectly. It feels like the duo haven’t aged a day since their last outing, and it’s really easy to feel like you’ve been transported back to their heyday. There isn’t a single track I’d skip, and it’s fairly brief runtime really makes it a great album for repeat visitations. It’s also one you can pick up and play at anytime, there’s nothing too demanding here at all. Just good vibes.

9/10 It’s hard to imagine any old-school PUFFY fan finding anything to complain about with this one, for a newcomer it’s a wonderful crash course in how Jpop used to be.

REVIEW: PUFFY- THE PUFFY

REVIEW: SEIKO OOMORI- PERSONA #1

It is no secret that Seiko Oomori is a workaholic; not only does she consistently deliver wonderous solo albums, often more than one a year, she also works on her own idol group project ZOC (who literally only released a double album last month) and then -on the side- has churned out many, many songs for other artists- mainly from the idol industry. With Persona #1, Seiko Oomori celebrates her 7th anniversary on avex with a new album consisting of self covers of some of the best songs she has given to other artists, ranging from Ladybaby to Sayumi Michishige (who Seiko Oomori absolutely ADORES).

This album straight off the bat is a wild one- unlike her main releases that have a flow and feel quite serious in tone- Seiko has used this opportunity to let loose and explore a whole range of new sounds- from jazz, to trap, rap (see the MIKEY feature on the new version of ‘Mugen Climax’) and even smidgens of dubstep and witch house. The whole thing is a joy to listen to; instantly gratifying and approachable- and yet, surprisingly, has quite a bit of replay value to be had because of the amount of work put into it.

These aren’t simple re-recordings, these are absolute, from the ground up reworkings of the songs previously released. Some took even this hardcore fan a few moments to register what exactly the original was- take for example the new jazzed up version of ‘14-Sai no Oshiete‘, which was originally performed by short-lived Rinne Yoshida unit Zunne from JC-WC (that version was recorder heavy and sounded like an indie pop song). Another totally different sounding track is ‘‘+゜。:゜+(´∀*)+゜:。*+Pikarin FUTURE+゜*。:゜+(*´∀)+゜:。+‘, originally performed by Shiina Pikarin. Now it’s a glorious old-school J-pop blazer; its amazing beats and production really elevating the song to new heights. The chorus is glorious- the potential I always felt that track had is fully ignited here.

The album is topped off with her most glorious single since ‘Magic Mirror‘ in my opinion, and is totally new to this album. That single being the almighty, sweeping ballad ‘Rude‘, that is sure to become a staple in live shows and live streams. It’s so, so powerful, and is the most similar song to what was presented on her amazing 2020 album ‘Kinstugi‘.

While overall, I don’t consider this album to be a masterpiece, for a ‘side’ record, it’s still absolutely essential for fans. On a sheer value for money level, it should be noted that this album’s CD+Blu Ray edition comes with 6 full concerts- clocking in at over 9 HOURS. Absolutely worth the pickup if you’re a Seiko Oomori fan.

8/10. Seiko Oomori continues her golden run of consistency with this fantastic self covers album, a fun release that is probably also the most approachable for a casual follower since ‘Sennou‘. Probably the best Jpop release you can pick up right now, and that’s not hyperbole.

REVIEW: SEIKO OOMORI- PERSONA #1

REVIEW: ZOC- PvP

It’s no secret that ZOC has had a rocky path leading up to their debut album, with a bunch of member swap outs and singles that didn’t really sell the group too well. Seiko Oomori doing an idol group has always been her dream- but for a while it felt like one that wasn’t gonna turn out as amazing as her solo output.

However, finally we have the debut LP, PvP– which stands for Player versus Prayer. This beast is a sprawling 2CD set that clocks in at 90 minutes- but somehow never feels tiresome. Sure it’s long but there’s enough interesting curveballs and variance to keep the listener absolutely engaged for it’s entire runtime. Seiko Oomori has risen to the task at hand- and brought together a group of girls that truly work off one another- enhanced by Seiko Oomori’s signature song writing.

Gone is the over the top edginess that made earlier iterations of ZOC harder to stomach. This feels like a classic idol album through and through- there’s no need to throw hollow labels like ‘anti-idol’ or ‘alt-idol’ at them anymore- here’s just a solid record that is a celebration of idol culture and female empowerment. It’s truly an idol album who’s message is firmly about women FOR women, and isn’t afraid to express it (but that doesn’t mean anyone else can’t listen to it- it’s absolutely kick ass).The lyricism is different to Seiko Oomori’s current solo work in the fact that it feels more on the nose- she has captured teenage emotion quite fittingly; it feels absolutely natural in the context of an idol group.

Musically speaking, there’s a really meaty smorgasbord to select from here, provided by the variety of talent on the arrangement and production side. Those include Shinichi Osawa, Suzuki Daiki, Kaoru Okubo, Mito, Satoru Kosaki and long-term Oomori collaborator sugarbeans. Song styles range from power ballads to more experimental pieces that really took me by surprise on the first spin. “FLY IN THE DEEPRIVER” was particularly intriguing with its layered vocals and unconventional melody structure (also, to hear those trademark Seiko Oomori style screams in here was fantastic). The witchhouse tinged “Nou♡Kou♡Se~♡Shoku” reminds of groups like Necronomidol- but still manages to sound like ZOC thanks to Seiko Oomori’s song writing being it’s core. All the old singles have been reworked and tightened up -and sound fantastic here (they’re all labelled “PvP versions”). Even songs I didn’t like (to say the least) such as SHINEMAGIC are far superior to their initial incarnations.

Overall, PvP is another solid record under Seiko Oomori’s belt., once again highlighting the ridiculous consistency that this woman puts out so frequently. Well worth a listen, even if idol music isn’t generally your thing. Good stuff!

7.5/10

REVIEW: ZOC- PvP