What does Otoboke Beaver sound like?
Japanese hardcore punk designed for advert inserts.
The review of Otoboke Beaver – Super Champon
Champon in Japanese means a jumble of things of different types. This perfectly describes the utter punk chaos that is Otoboke Beaver. Their new album “Super Champon” crams in 18 tracks in under 22 minutes and manages to provide enough attitude, sass, energy, anarchy and power to fill an hour. The beauty of the way Otoboke Beaver creates music in a fluid fashion is what makes everything work so perfectly.
Take the track “I won’t disk out salads”. In 82 seconds we have about 6 tempo changes, a surge rage scream and trash out, proper hooks and melody switch ups and some absolutely crazy lyrics. It pushes all the hardcore punk buttons at 180 mph yet never feels like it’s a train running out of control. On “PARDON?” there’s a hilarious call and response of “I don’t know what you mean / SHUT UP!” that gets increasingly laboured and frustrated as the tempo loosely winds up and so does the ferocity of the instruments. Yet, here, just like all the album, Otoboke Beaver never gets sloppy. There is clarity in the insane bassline speeds. Electric guitars never blur into a total trash mess. The drums are sharp and on point too. Vocally, we spend about 60% of the album at high-speed scream and the rest veering from kawaii chants, indie rock weirdness and panicked paranoia.
Whilst everything here is full-on punk, there’s a lot of variety to the delivery. “YAKITORI” has a playground rhyme playfulness whilst “I checked your cellphone” is like an assault on the senses. There is an overwhelming feeling of anxiety and a reflexive two fingers up at the world throughout. Yet, they’ll quite happily lean into their crazy side. “Don’t call me Mojo” violently veers from a mumble chant to a frantic guitar blitz via pitch shifting their vocals to chipmunks. It’s like this constantly from every 30 seconds of the album to the next. Throw in some bubblegum vocals with “First-class side-guy” and you have a band that simply commits 500% to every note like it is their last.
My only minor critique of something so unhinged and explosive is that the second half of the album is crammed full of short songs. It’s as if Otoboke Beaver decided they wanted to write hardcore punk for adverts. Four of the last six tracks are under 18 seconds and feel like spasms. Thematically by the lyrics and song titles, it makes sense to have these songs at the end of the album. They are titled things like “Let’s shopping after show” but perhaps spreading them out may have made the album’s cadence a little more even. As a sucker for artists committing wholeheartedly to their vision though, the fact the album is wildly uneven is a great character trait. This is Super Champon after all.
I adore this album. It is so unhinged and full of chaotic cross-wind energy. So much of the lyrical content is about misunderstandings, getting into love and then wanting to run a mile away from it – I totally relate. It has the intensity of a teenager that feels every emotion a thousand times stronger all at once. It’s punk for the crowd that wants personal slice of life anarchy. Otoboke Beaver deserves all the plaudits for making my favourite punk album of 2022.
Recommended track: I don’t want to die alone
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