“Champon” is a Japanese term which first originated in cookery, roughly meaning “a mix of ingredients”, and so it is with the mighty Otoboke Beaver‘s new album. The quartet skilfully – and playfully – put girl groups through a blender, wring the neck of punk and stomp on any preconceived notions you might have previously held about noise music. They are all of this and more, incredible musicians and wild women with something to say about society, particularly contemporary Japan and how young ladies are expected to settle down.
Their wilful rejection of cliches run rampant throughout, as in the sarcastic nursery rhyme I Am Not Maternal, and the absolutely frenetic, brutal I Won’t Dish Out Salads. Don’t Call Me Mojo is like a four woman battering ram, and First-class Side Guy is as conventional as it gets for the band, really rather sweet… at least, the first minute or so.
What’s so wonderful is the way the tracks explode into sheer volcanic chaos. Yoyoyoshie’s furious guitar, Hirochan’s chunky bass and Kahokiss’ frenzied drumming anchor each track, which will often start off quite rock, only to U-turn several times. Accorinin’s vocals vacillate between sugar and spite. There are at least four parts to Leave Me Alone! No, Stay, occasionally chanted in English, and that makes a lot of sense. The mercurial, ever-shifting nature is what keeps everyone on their toes. Their track George and Janice may share a title with labelmates Say Sue Me, but that’s the only similarity there.
In a music business full of corporate pop, wide-eyed folky singer-songwriters, and sexualised R ‘n’ B divas, Otoboke Beaver feel genuinely rebellious and subversive. They’re the antidote to safe, nice mainstream music, and we must embrace their four-pronged genius lunacy.