Otoboke Beaver: What is an all-female Japanese punk outfit from Kyoto? Itekoma Hits: What is a compilation of new tracks plus singles and EPs from the past few years serving as their latest album? Pretty fucking hard: How “hard” does this quartet go? In fact, Otoboke Beaver’s brand of punk has as much in common with speed metal as it does lo-fi or noise, because while the group’s overall sound is the sonic equivalent of getting a fist to the face (take, for example, the very literal threat of “I am after you”), the density of their compositions and the technical precision of their performance is nothing less than virtuosic. For those completely, er, out of practice with their Japanese, they make it easy for us: heavily utilizing repetition of key phrases, like “I hate you” (on opener “Datsu Hikage no onna”) and frequently referencing genres in the midst of their otherwise psychotic, irregular song structures. Nothing is out of their wheelhouse, like the rock n’ roll of the previously mentioned track’s primary melody; the noise rock rant of “Akimahenka“; the surf rock of “S’il vous plait”; or the cheerleader chant of “Bad Luck.” To listen to one track is to lose one’s mind either trying to intellectualize what they have painstakingly crafted or losing your body (and general sense of self) in the freak-out. A cursory listen to the incredible “Bad luck” sees the song move from low-stakes, New Wave-y chant to a waltz, its meter switching from 6/8 to 7/8 intermittently (think Phillip Glass), to pop-punk and then cheerleader-ing, each moment transitioning with some variegated, arhythmic punk meltdown served up at 200 BPMs — and that song is only two minutes and seven seconds. As various track titles allude to (my favorite: “Don’t Light My Fire,” but even more on-the-nose: “Binge Eating Binge Drinking Bulimia”), there’s a deconstruction happening — the videos follow suit, generally just as insane but clearly targeting gender dynamics and social norms. Punk shit, in other words.
Published as part of Foreign Correspondent | Issue 4.