Kusokawa PARTY, unlike the more recent albums by Seiko Oomori, is not remotely easy to adore immediately. As a fan, I feel I am guilty in becoming too comfortable with Seiko Oomori’s world, expecting an easy run or instant classic. She’s certainly given that an incredible amount of times, but here she really kicks the hornet’s nest and challenges us- something I hadn’t felt since first discovering her back in 2012.
Each of Seiko Oomori’s albums can be given it’s own unique character. To me, Mahou Ga is the bookworm, Zettai Shoujo the art student, Sennou is the upcoming superstar, TOKYO BLACK HOLE the mother and kitixxgaia the priest. Seiko Oomori herself describes Kusokawa PARTY as ‘The Jester’ but personally, it’s that cute but intimidating looking girl in the corner, awkwardly dressed and alone- who you don’t know will hug you or knife you if you approach. Perhaps both. But one things for certain, you HAVE to know.
The opening run of the album is a true tour de force. Seiko has never, ever been this energetic, even in her most uproarious moments. It’s absolutely exhausting. On first listen, it flew by without even really registering. What on Earth was that? A maelstrom of ideas (swooping Avex-style ballads, metal, punk numbers and even touches of K-pop) all colliding with each other. It is then, far more approachable if you listen to it through headphones on early listens, allowing all these elements to separate and settle a bit better.
Relief only really comes in by the eight track of the album- in the form of the now classic Seiko Oomori acoustic number ‘Tokyo to Kyou‘, which leads into the much more mellow ‘Watashimi‘ and its seemingly paired piece ‘Kimoikawa‘, which feel like the crash and recovery after a big night out, perhaps fittingly so given the title of the album.
What this album certainly offers from the get-go is Seiko’s best vocal performance ever. Every single song features some of her most truly outrageous, yet controlled wails to date. ‘Amoeba no Uta‘ is without a doubt, truly a moment of vocal perfection. It’s an absolutely phenomenal experience when her off-kilter singing turns into a blood curdling scream, which is bound to raise many arm hairs of listeners around the world.
My early impressions of this album were so different to what they are now, there’s a real sense of it evolving each spin. Seiko seems to be reaching for some kind of departure (not so much musically- more of a sense that Seiko needs to do something a little different in order to prevent staleness) here, or taking first steps into a new territory.
This happened with Zettai Shoujo, which made much more sense in the scheme of her discography with the release of follow up album Sennou. One can only wait and see if Kusokawa PARTY will share the same kind of legacy.
8/10 At most, Kusokawa PARTY is an extremely interesting and thought provoking work that challenges some of the preconceptions we had about Seiko Oomori’s brand, at worst, its 10 good new songs to add to the collection.
(This review is based on the regular edition of the album)