Album review by Glitterbitch

How do you listen to, let alone review, an album that is predominantly sung in a language which is completely alien to you? It’s certainly difficult and akin to watching a foreign film with no subtitles or dubbing. As such there are parts of Bo-Peep’s debut album ‘Is It Good For You?’ that are difficult to negotiate, especially in OTT moments on songs such as ‘Crazy Bombs’ in which the band almost become a comedy caricature of themselves – three young manga school girls stamping their feet and screaming adolescently into the microphone. Maybe that is simply the perspective of Western ears that have been conditioned to stereotype Asian culture, but either way there are points when the high pitched Japanese vocals do become too much. There are
smatterings of English throughout though and both ‘Hairy’ and ‘Step 1,2’ (where Elastica meet Bis) are completely sung in the language. However,
neither really works as the adolescent and repetitive lyrics become an annoyance, the latter song featuring little more than a lesson in counting to four over and over again.


When they are not trying to please the Western ear or going over the top so much that they do the opposite, then the three-piece girl band from Fukuoka’s underground scene sound like a band desperately trying to emulate and even
out-do their grunge rock heroes. It is slightly odd to hear a band so influenced by Western musicians when you come from a society that constantly remakes classic Asian films and often degrades and destroys the original imaginative ideas that created them.

‘B-level Motion’ rips the album open with some impressive guitar work and there are indeed some great guitar melodies and dynamics that make the music powerful and prove this band can rock hard, even if there are offering nothing new to us. Amidst the chaos and harmony, it all comes together most successfully on tracks such as ‘Trip’, ‘Make It Whole’ and ‘Ending’ where it
seems the band aren’t trying to do anything other than write amazing songs. ‘Trip’ is less frenetic and is driven along by a powerful bass hook
leading into the sound of Kings of Leon playing in a seedy nightclub full of dancing girls. ‘Ending’ and ‘Make It Whole’ are filled with saccharine pop
goodness and choruses that you want to sing but can only hum (unless you know or learn the language).

‘Coffee’ provides the obligatory rock ballad before the album draws to a close and proves once again what an interesting experience it is listening to and thinking about ‘Is It Good For You?’ because not only does it suggest something about Asian culture and how it is changing but it also challenges our preconceptions in the west and questions the language and cultural divide
that currently still exists. You can’t help but wonder what this would sound like sung in a native tongue but that is a disservice to a band that can
quite clearly play in their own right and should not be given any special treatment due to their origins.