For their last few releases, Japanese idol rock group BiSH has been focused on fashioning a larger sound and building a cult of personality around themselves, these concerns being the new focus of their notorious label, WACK. This has led to many of the band’s most emotionally prescient songs, such as “Orchestra” — and it’s a tendency that’s most certainly adhered to on Carrots and Sticks. Album opener “Distance,” whose contemplative verses create contrast with the explosive chorus, is the best example of this here, while the more subtle “No Sweet” lacks a similar dynamic. Another, less positive trend on the group’s most recent releases is evidenced in tracks like “Tsui Ni Shi” and “Finally” — which are aggressively fun, but often add up to little more than empty posturing. Despite this, Carrots and Sticks still stands out among BiSH’s more recent output: It’s the first time since their debut that we’ve seen the group really return to the simple, yet supremely catchy punk-influenced songs that made them, sonically, the most exciting idol group on the scene. Standout tracks include the near-embarrassingly upbeat “I Am Me.,” the more emo-leaning “Yasashi Pain,” and, perhaps the best track on the album, “Can You??,” which digs out BiSH’s old signature distortion blast. On these songs, the production side and the members’ vocals really mesh. That’s also what made BiSH’s second album, 2016’s Fake Metal Jacket, their most consistent release to date. That the band has finally come to understand this strength is encouraging. It inspires more confidence in BiSH’s future than any of the other moves recently made by their fickle and often dispiriting label.
Published as part of Foreign Correspondent | Issue 5.