Otoboke Beaver once again take the ceiling off with Super Champon, a thrilling, aggressive sophomore album brimming with ideas, twisted humor, and noise rock blasts.
After a decade of playing together as a band, whacked-out Japanese punk rock quartet Otoboke Beaver finally released their first proper LP Itekoma Hits in 2019. It was a full-on, all-out noise punk assault, full of zany musical ideas, frequent rhythm changes, and jagged riffs. Each song was a short burst of frenetic energy, taking cues from Melt-Banana’s grindcore experimentalism and Sleater-Kinney’s angular guitar lines, as well as the savage powerviolence that marked Ceremony’s early releases.
Super Champon, their second full-length, sees the Kyoto band crank up the intensity even further, to louder, crazier, and catchier results. Beneath all the blistering servings of spazzy noisecore, Otoboke Beaver have consistently found ways to sprinkle in some legitimately ear-catching pop hooks, brief as they may have been. Super Champon is chock-full of those memorable moments, be it the cheerleader chants on “YAKITORI,” the constant refrain of “I don’t know what you mean!” on “PARDON?”, or the stop-start rhythm of “I don’t want to die alone.” Even the back and forth between sticky sludge rock, carnivalesque double-time polka, and a ferocious harsh noise blur on “Dirty old fart is waiting for my reaction” will likely claw itself into the long-term memory of any receptive listener, before culminating in a crushing double bass finale that rivals The Locust in its sheer batshit energy. But what really sets Super Champon apart from its predecessor is its increased assuredness. There was always a sense of controlled chaos to their music, constantly teetering on the edge while never quite falling off, but the band has never felt as in command as they do here. The manic energy that made Itekoma Hits so exhilarating becomes even more effective with sharper songwriting, tighter performances, and a more consistent production — subtleties that, admittedly, might not reveal themselves on a first listen, given the overwhelming nature of their sound.
The off-the-wall song titles stand out immediately, however. Highlights include the aforementioned “Dirty old fart,” “You’re no hero shut up f*ck you man-whore,” and the 26-second stutter groove “Where did you buy such a nice watch you are wearing now.” Far from being purely abstract, dadaist ramblings — not that there’s anything wrong with those — the band actually revisits a lot of the themes from their first record. Conformity, having kids, sexism, and capitalist, work-till-you-drop culture are all skewered through deceptively wholesome harmonies, screeched gang vocals, and spitfire hardcore punk barks. Vocalist Accorinrin’s affected yelps also lament frustrating relationship dynamics on tracks like “Leave me alone! No, stay with me!”, spending the entirety of the track unable to make up her mind, as bassist Hiro-chan’s fingers frantically work the fretboard, shooting off ultra-dense microfills between the song’s Nomeansno-esque staccato pulse.
Super Champon is an incredibly infectious effort, overflowing with ideas, twisted humor, and thrillingly loud noise rock blasts. It perhaps ends up being a touch less accessible than Itekoma Hits, since the band really leans into their chaotic impulses on their latest release, stripping away some of the straightforward garage influences in favor of a more unhinged and unpredictable potpourri of styles. But whatever minuscule amount of approachability the band may have given up on, they more than make up for with an added dose of aggression — and gems like the “California Über Alles” tribute on “I won’t dish out salads” don’t hurt either. With two incredible albums under their belt so far — as well as numerous quality EPs and singles — it’s safe to say that Otoboke Beaver have grown to become one of Japan’s best and fiercest contemporary punk bands. Super Champon is an absolutely incredible LP.
Published as part of Album Roundup — May 2022 | Part 1.