This Friday (5/6), acclaimed Japanese punk-rock-garage quartet Otoboke Beaver will release their highly anticipated album Super Champon via Damnably. Now, they shared the final glimpse into the project with the video “I don’t want to die alone.” The accompanying cartoon video (animated by the band’s guitarist, Yoyoyoshie) for this thrashing single portrays a woman who is overwhelmed by the public displays of affection by couples in her day to day life, pleading into the abyss to be seen and haunted by the idea of dying alone. Vocalist and chief songwriter Accorinrin expands, “This is probably my favorite track on the new album, we mixed in a lot of different styles. There are ‘Pop’ parts, or like ‘idol’ style parts, and ‘hard rock’ parts. It’s fun to play.”
Super Champon follows 2019’s critically acclaimed Itekoma Hits. ‘Champon’ is a Japanese noun meaning a mixture or jumble of things of different types, as the band explains, “It’s a mixture of songs from love to food, life and JASRAC. Our music is genreless and has various elements. We hope that it will be our masterpiece of chaos music. It also sounds like champion.” Across 18 songs, chief singer-songwriter Acco expands the band’s possibilities and pushes their musical skills to the limit. Acco has remarked previously that she is more influenced by ‘manzai,’ a traditional style of comedy in Japanese culture comparable to stand-up comedy, exemplified by its use of slang puns and wordplay, speedy back-and-forth dialogue and impeccable timing in delivering a punchline — characteristics of which Otoboke Beaver’s music shares in droves.
“PARDON?” was the album’s lead single, a jokey recounting of a situation the band often finds themselves in, with unrelenting miscommunication of unsolicited and overzealous points of views. The simple lyrical refrains are an extreme contrast to the stop-start time changes and dizzying pace. Loneliness and dating are hot topics, tackling contradictory desires (“Leave me alone! No, stay with me!” and “I don’t want to die alone”), rebuffing them (“First class side-guy” and “You’re no hero shut up F**k you man-whore”), and all the absurdities in between (“I checked your cellphone” and “Do you want me to send a DM”).
Previously released singles “I am not maternal,” “Don’t call me mojo,” and “Dirty old fart is waiting for my reaction” see the band pushing back on societal pressure to reproduce, calling out ridiculous judgements on what gives a woman value, and reacting to uninvited counsel from would-be patronizers. The food-themed songs here are figurative rather than literally about food. “YAKITORI” (Japanese grilled chicken) is a weapon of choice in a petty act of revenge. “I won’t dish out salad” is an allegorical rejection of actions and roles expected of genders. In “Nabe party with pocket brothers,” the band imagines the awkwardness of a hotpot party with partner-swapped exes. “George & Janice” is the second song from Damnably’s roster to pay tribute to the marriage of the label’s co-heads, (the other was from Say Sue Me), with a typically hilarious take on the couple’s bickering love. “Let’s shopping after show” is a short and to-the-point hustle; all bands need to eat.
Otoboke Beaver, formed at Kyoto University’s music club, consists of Accorinrin (lead vocal & guitar), Yoyoyoshie (guitar & vocals), Hirochan (bass & vocals), and Kahokiss (drums & vocals). Acco’s off-kilter self-taught compositional and confrontational performance skills, together with the band’s incredible musicianship, make for a thrilling and unmissable live act. The band will tour North America in the fall of 2022, with dates and tickets available here.
Photo Courtesy: Mayumi Hirata