My thoughts on “Y-zaka no tatsujin jiken”, the latest album from Eren-chan.
Release Date: April 3rd 2020
1. Cone de dareka o tatakitai
2. Kinzoku bat
3. Halloween Party Let’s Go
4. Aji hen
5. Yōkina tenchō
6. Cream pan wa sore kiri
7. Jōshi ga George de semete kuru
8. Anta wa tensai
I’m not sure exactly what it is about solo idols that I’m so fond of. I suppose on some level there’s a lot of respect for someone doing something that usually requires a group of several others, because none of this stuff is easy even at the best of times. Then there’s also this idea that things can be a bit more personalized and unique from a conceptual standpoint too, with greater creative freedom coming from having less chefs in the kitchen…or girls on the stage as the case might be in this particular instance.
Eren-chan is a soloist who has been active for coming up on 10 years at this point and that’s all I really know about her. To be fair, she makes it pretty difficult to find information about her in the first place, taking on a stage name, being…less than forthcoming about her age and other such personal information. I think it’s a pretty charming gimmick myself, and is made all the better when incorporated into the singer’s “dokuzetsu” or “poisonous tongue” personality. She’s a bit of a character is what I’m getting at and who doesn’t love those in Idol? I know I sure do.
“Y-zaka no tatsujin jiken” is Eren-chan’s latest studio album and I believe her…sixth overall if we don’t count the “Best of” release from the tail end of last year. While I’ve heard her name come up several times over the years I can’t say I’ve ever really paid to much attention to the soloist’s musical output, until today that is. As such I have no idea what to expect, but this release is billed as Eren being “as cynical as ever” and given the other facets of her personality I touched on earlier in this intro I’m certainly hoping for a release that’s big on character if nothing else. Something tells me this might be a bit of a wild right folks, won’t you join me though?
First up is “Cone de dareka o tatakitai”, because apparently the first thing Eren wants us to know on this album is that she would really like to hit someone with a cone. Lo-Fi Garage Rock seems to be the order of the day early on this track, with its opening instrumental comprising of several warm guitar riffs and a punchy drumbeat in this style. It’s good stuff and Eren wastes little time making herself known on the song as well, delivering her lines with an amount of personality that tells you we’re not taking things super seriously but also not to the point that it feels over the top or forced. Things do settle down a bit once the song gets going, with the instrumental providing some rather nice, funky hooks thanks to its main guitar riff which pairs very well with the beat coming from the drums. Eren’s vocals provide a brighter, more Pop leaning dynamic to things and are rather catchy too in their own right assuming you’re okay with them being a touch on the exaggerated side. The transitions into and out of the song’s chorus are perhaps the smoothest I’ve ever heard, which may be more to do with the track’s relentless stream of consciousness approach than anything else, but nevertheless it more than holds its own against everything else going on. If you’re looking for a super energetic and fun throwback track then “Cone de dareka o tatakitai” comes highly recommended.
We follow on from that with “Kinzoku bat” and I can’t help but to notice a somewhat violent undertone developing as we continue to make our way through this album. Much like a metal bat, this track hits hard right from the start with a very heavy, intense Metal inspired opening instrumental pounding away at your eardrums as the song’s opening salvo. The spell is somewhat broken when Eren’s squeaky screams are brought into play, not what I was expecting at all but if the intention was to make me chuckle then she more than succeeded in that objective. She actually does a really good job of cutting through the song’s very dense instrumental to be fair, much better than some groups who are trying for more “serious” takes on the genre at least. There aren’t really verses to speak of on this one, just Eren and a male vocal shouting out a line or two at a time while the instrumental thunders along in the background. The chorus, if you can call it that, manages to string a few more lines together in a slightly more melodic fashion but these moments are fleeting over the course of the track’s near 5 minute duration. I imagine a lot of people will turn their nose up at this one and knock it for not being serious enough, but there’s actually a lot of really great instrumentation on show, with the guitar solo in the song’s bridge being a particularly standout feature. I wasn’t expecting to hear an entertaining take on the Death Metal genre, but I guess this album is just full of surprises isn’t it?
It’s a few months early, but “Halloween Party Let’s Go” is effective in creating a pretty creepy atmosphere during the opening moments of its instrumental…and then brings in a Polka melody of sorts that brings a bit more of a fun element to the piece. It works very well but certainly not where you perhaps expect the song to be heading after its opening sequence. Still, we’ve got a pretty nice tempo going on for a bit before the vocals come in and they are pretty much what you’d expect after how the instrumental has gone about setting the song up up until this point. Eren’s vocals match the tempo of the song, partly because that’s all you can really do with this particular style but also because it allows for her to deliver her lines in an appropriately exaggerated, spooky fashion. There’s also a more playful side to things as well, often in the lyrical content but also in the delivery at times as well. The lyrics are pretty catchy too which never hurts, even if they are sort of confined to a somewhat rigid instrumental structure. Well, that’s the case until the instrumental gets flipped on its head mid-song, changing into a fast paced, Garage Rock style composition that has riffs and lyrics being volleyed at the listener in rapid succession. If you weren’t enjoying this one initially then definitely stick around a bit because I feel like you’ll probably end up enjoying the destination, if not the journey to get there. Fun, unique, entertaining.
I wasn’t quite sure where things were going when “Aji hen” first started to play, as the instrumental’s upbeat…beat and clapping could lend itself to quite a few styles. The bass riff that accompanies the introduction of Eren’s vocals makes this perhaps a little bit clearer but there was still quite a few different directions that this song could take. A distortion heavy Rock instrumental with a synthesizer providing something of a more melodic dynamic wasn’t exactly near the top of my list personally, but it makes for a pretty enjoyable result. It’s not just distortion for the sake of it like some songs opt for, it’s to add weight to the riffs which are already quite punchy given the tempo with which the song is being delivered into your earholes. Also providing the song with some much needed melodic content are Eren’s vocals, which aren’t exactly trying to match the tone of the instrumental given how playful and cheery they sound in their delivery. It definitely makes for a rather interesting contrast in styles that’s for sure, and the you know what, the synthesizer is just about tying it all together here so it works out somehow. The chorus is where the track’s melodic side really gets a chance to shine though, with the distortion and guitars mellowing a bit so the synthesizer and vocals can have their chance to do their thing while being a little less impeded. An enjoyable clash of styles in my opinion, and it goes to show you can make a lot of things work if you try hard enough.
The retro feel of “Yōkina tenchō”‘s opening Synth Rock instrumental caught my attention pretty quickly as we crossed the halfway mark on this very colorful and varied release. The synthesizer side of the equation is especially entertaining in its bright and very catchy 80s throwback style, though that’s not to take anything away from the Rock component either as it provides some rather ear pleasing riffs of its own too. The vocals come in fairly quickly and they mark a transition of sorts as the instrumental takes on a more energetic, party type of atmosphere while still holding onto as much of that opening style as can realistically be expected. Not much lyrical content during this part, just a bunch of “Lalala”s but hey, it works well enough and is enjoyable to listen to so that’s the main thing I suppose. The guitar gets brought back in after a while, bringing with it some very dense and warm fuzz which does kinda muffle the synths perhaps a bit too much but the vocals do a good job of cutting through it and by now are providing a lot more in the way of lyrical content, as well as some fairly catchy hooks. That’s the story of a good chunk of the middle of the song, before we get a reprieve by way of some more “Lalala”s and a lighter instrumental which leads into a pretty awesome guitar solo in the bridge. From there it’s back to the bustling chaos of the party atmosphere right up until the track ends. Sounds like it was some party, wish I was invited.
We kinda keep that throwback vibe going into the album’s next track “Cream pan wa sore kiri” which combines a repeating synthesizer sequence with a rather nice piano melody to get things off on a fairly bright note, though not especially energetic compared to other tracks on this release. The vocals are eventually brought in and you get the feeling that this one is going to play out a bit more like a Ballad, which is fine given the huge variety of genres and styles we’ve already been treated to. There’s a bit of reverb and vocoding at work as Eren delivers her lines which gives them a little extra zing while also complimenting the instrumental that has been slowly picking up in tempo in the background over time. By the time the first chorus hits there’s a lot more meat on the bones, with a steady thumping beat and a few more synthesizers having made it into the mix and while the chorus doesn’t opt to change up the tempo of the track too much there’s a nice tonal change and some fairly catchy lyrical hooks to enjoy. The rest of the song holds onto a bit of this which makes for a slightly more upbeat experience than you might have expected from where we started off from. At the end of the day this is still pretty much a Ballad for the most part, but Eren is bringing plenty of her personality to the table and that along with a fun instrumental makes for a very enjoyable listen.
If all of that was just a bit too calm and sedate for you then we’re back to that funky Rock sound once again on the album’s penultimate track “Jōshi ga George de semete kuru”. Some really nice guitar riffs with that great warm tone provide the instrumental with the bulk of its sound, with a fairly high tension drumbeat giving a little bit more punch to the composition while not really trying to step on the toes of the layers of guitar riffs too much. Quite a lot going on in this one and the healthy application of distortion isn’t really making things sound any less dense and chaotic either. Eren’s vocals once again do a great job of cutting through all of that though, as she synchronizes her personality to perfectly match the tone that the instrumental is going for. It results in a pretty rough, at times almost sneering delivery of some of her lines but also making sure to keep a lighter, more Pop leaning component to things not only to tie back into the rest of the album but to also provide the song with a much needed melodic element. It’s all pretty well thought out and makes for a very enjoyable end product which manages to incorporate that rougher Rock style with a more Idol-like vocal without things sounding too unnatural like some other acts unfortunately tend to. We’re seven tracks deep on this release and I have to say that this is one of my favorite songs, which is high praise considering I’ve liked pretty much everything else so far too.
Thus we come to the final track on the album in “Anta wa tensai” in which the title states “You are a genius”. Is Eren talking about the listener or herself here one has to wonder? Anyway, you kinda get a good idea of where this one is going straight away when the taiko drums and whistles make their presence known and Eren pops up to repeat the song’s title over and over and over again in the exaggerated manner that we’ve all grown to be accustomed to by now, well I have at least. From there things get a bit chaotic, with all manner of instruments being incorporated into a standard Rock composition. It thankfully relaxes a bit as we hit the first verses of the track, and we get a fairly mellow by comparison Rock instrumental on top of which Eren can showcase a bit of a…more natural singing voice I suppose. Well, as natural as we’re going to get out of her I suppose. The song switches fairly frequently between these two styles so there’s quite a lot going on and a lot to take in, but after a couple of listens there’s definitely a method to the apparent madness of it all. Multiple listens are encouraged as well, as there are so many little parts to pick out that you’re never going to hear them all in one play through. I suppose in a way this track is a rather fitting summation of both this album and Eren as a performer. Complex, full of surprises and we’re all probably only just scratching the surface.
“Y-zaka no tatsujin jiken” really impressed me considering I had never really given Eren-chan much of a chance before. It delivers on personality in a big way, which is what I had hoped for coming into this review and it’s hard not to be reminded of Yuisrus (though a much more adult version) at times here while listening to this release. If you try to take it too seriously you’re probably going to have a bad time, but if you take it for what it is which is fun, tongue planted firmly in cheek stuff then I think you’ll enjoy yourself greatly.
Well then, I guess I need to head back into the archives and do a bit more research here. Like I alluded to earlier it really does feel like I’ve only really scratched the surface with this review. Who knows what I might find should I choose to dig a little deeper into Eren’s back catalog? It seems like there’s quite the collection of songs to go through and I’m both curious and mildly terrified of what I might find when I do. Who ever said this idol thing was boring? Not me, that’s for sure!