BO-PEEP IS IT GOOD FOR YOU?
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? Its certainly
difficult and akin to watching a foreign film with no subtitles or dubbing.
As such there are parts of Bo-Peeps 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 Fukuokas 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 arent trying to do anything other than write amazing
songs. Trip is less frenetic and is driven along by a powerful
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 cant 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.