Charisma.com picked up steam a couple years back when people discovered their first mini album “Aye-Aye Syndrome“. It offered something fresh- a hip hop group who’s attitude and resilience toward the restrictive society that is Japan resonated- particularly with women. It, like other new groups popping up, offered an outlet, a voice. Somewhere where you COULD be angry and not be afraid to show it. And it was a hell of a good time to boot. That mini was followed up with “DIStopping” which propelled their sound and formula to even greater heights. It was an outlet for not only hip hop fans, but pop fans in general. It cooked.
And then something happened. Charisma.com‘s success from these first two releases got them a contract on major label Warner Music. But it somewhat came with a price- the hard edge seemed to have been softened. Whether or not that is legitimately the case is yet to be seen- but the last EP “O’Lest” and now this new mini album, “Aidoru C” certainly suggest that it is. Sure there may be remnants of the Charisma.com everyone fell in love with- but you do have to look for them. One can’t help but draw parallels to another duo -the legedary HALCALI- in this regard.
I write this introduction because it helps to put my feelings into perspective when I talk about this latest mini album. I certainly don’t hate the group. I still find merit in some of these tracks, but overall, it’s hard not to feel a little alienated with it as an old fan. First up. Let’s talk about the positive elements. The production is fine, if a little flat at times. There are, fortunately, moments where a more hard electronic sound ala “Super Girl” come into play, and this still gets this listener pumped up. Vocals are still great, Itsuka is tight as ever. There are moments where the playful and bitchy attitude of earlier releases shine through, and those are highly appreciated. There are also a trilogy of undeniably great songs, “Horunuki ni Koishite” which really does sound as good as anything from DIStopping, “Koshihake Rap” which shows a slight spark of how hard these girls can go when they want (and I love that fucking drop) and “Toshindai Gray” that is just plain great to listen to.
Unfortunately, the lesser elements truly outweigh the positives. First up the awful single “Subliminal Diet” which is as watered down as it gets- and to make things worse- it’s the opening track to the mini. It’s definitely not the most oomphy choice for an opener, and really sets up a bad vibe to begin with. The closer is just as bad, the utterly charmless “Jidoll” that is so forgettable it’s ridiculous.
And that’s the key word really- forgettable. This word really leads into one of the major problems I have with the mini. Quite often at times, where something could sound really great, it sounds washed out and weak. There seems to be an urgency to make a lot of these tracks sound as poppy and modern/trendy as possible, and doing so really makes them turn into mush that goes in one ear and comes out the other. A duo that used to have so much flavor now, for the most part, taste like oatmeal. A shame really.
Other than that there’s a couple cute touches here and there, like the track “GODCustomer” which I’m on the fence with. “Bell Sassa” is a nice attempt at doing something a little different- but it sounds so generic that it could be by anyone. Aidoro C is by no means the worst thing I’ve ever heard- but it’s certainly Charisma.com‘s weakest effort yet. Sadly, the pattern they are taking really doesn’t give me much hope for future releases being much better- but those three great songs on it are at least a straw to cling to. I could be totally wrong and Charisma.com will release another breathtaking album- but this certainly isn’t it. Fans may or may not get something out of it, depending on what they’re after.
6/10 – The weakest release by Charisma.com. Take the three good tracks and skip the rest.