Otoboke Beaver – Itekoma Hits [Things You Might Have Missed 2019]

You’re looking at the album to the immediate left (or above, for you cellphone readers), and probably wondered if I’ve gone off my rocker. Here, a metal site, covering something that’s not even remotely metal. But yes, we’ve covered non-metal stuff in the past. As long as it’s good, gives us reviewers joyous vibes, and is kinda sorta somewhat within proximity of our wheelhouse, we’ll give it a fair shake and coverage. Kyoto’s Otoboke Beaver’s debut full-length, Itekoma Hits, is several miles away from our particular wheelhouse, but we see them, cheerfully smiling and waving while screaming, delivering some absolutely apeshit bonkers music that veers from pop-punk to hardcore to surf music to practically everywhere else and in-between.

How bonkers? Every song gives off a vibe similar to The B-52’s, full of bouncy pop and punk aesthetics, and proceeds to draw from the Beaten to Death playbook of insane sharp detours while achieving the same kind of kinetic energy that early Bad Brains have been known for and loved. “S’il Vous Plait” opens with a bouncy, surf-punk beat with groovy bass and a catchy guitar riff before Yoyoyoshie levels you with an insanely loud noise guitar solo. “Don’t Light My Fire” starts off with a group chant before the band throws the gauntlet down, only stopping for a brief respite to randomly toss in a happy drum-and-bass section before blasting you to pieces again. And if you’re not skanking to the quiet sing-along section of “Anata watashi daita ato yome no meshi,” I don’t want to know you.

These detours and surprise hooks come at you from every direction on literally every song on here, and thankfully the band displays a ridiculous amount of tightness and musicianship that more established acts would kill for. Otoboke Beaver leave no room for sloppiness, for while these songs feature stop-on-a-dime tightness, they still groove and feel like a punk band should. That also bleeds into the vocals, and I don’t just mean lead vocalist Accorinrin. Literally every band member joins in either as a call-and-response (“Don’t Light My Fire,” “Anata watashi daita ato yome no meshi,” “Datsu. Hikage no onna”) or joining in on gang shouts/screams/shrieks (seriously, pick a song on here). All this culminates into a 14-song, 26-minute rollercoaster ride of infectious hooks, impeccable grooves, jawdropping what-the-fuck moments, and a mood that’s simultaneously angry and happy.

As the years pass and my musical library matches my waistline in terms of unhealthy expansion, I’d like to think I’ve heard it all before. I’m always happy when a band proves me wrong, and Otoboke Beaver did just that on their debut full-length. The Beaver know how to throw you for a loop while hooking you in with their songwriting chops. Pass this up at your peril.

Tracks to Check Out: “Datsu. Hikage no onna,” “S’il Vous Plait,” “Bakuro Book,” “Introduce Me to Your Family,” “Love is Short,” “Don’t Light My Fire,” “6 Day Work Week Is a Pain,” “Anata watashi daita ato yome no meshi”

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