[Champagne] - Me No Do Karate.

review - 08.15.2013 08:10

Some songs pack a real punch in the band's fourth album.

Indie rock band [Champagne] have encountered huge success since their debut album in 2010, selling out huge venues such as Shibuya-AX and even making it to the UK to play live. Following three well-received albums, their fourth full length album was released on the 24th of June with the apparently randomly chosen title of Me No Do Karate..

As with their previous releases, this album is filled with a good deal of loud, satisfying rock tunes in various guises. It doesn't appear to start that way, and may even have some scratching their heads as opening track Rise starts with a cheap electric keyboard, as if a throwback from a 90s pop album. Fortunately, as Yoohei's falsetto vocals kick in it's back to the [Champagne] rock, although in a more serious tone than usual for the foursome. Satoyasu's deep, rapid bass drum is domineering, a dark heartbeat to this surprisingly heavy yet likeable track. With its rousing chorus and depth of sound it would be an instant hit in a large live venue.

Songs like Stimulator and Kick & Spin resemble previous material more than the others. The former is noisy and fun, with an interesting, almost tense verse before the explosive release of the chorus. It's almost a shame they felt they had to add some old "wub wub" dubstep near the end, which is pervasively dipping its tendrils into all walks of Japanese music nowadays. The latter grabs the attention more with it's dizzying, repeating riff, intricate rhythms and scene-stealing lead guitar melody.

Pop has made its way into the mix, too. They are capable of throwing their full force into a track like the fresh and uplifting Starrrrrr, which is as memorable as it is instantly contagious. Having been written for the Gerolsteiner sparkling water rock music partnership, "Gerock", the guys have really taken inspiration from the drink to create a pop-rock track that is fizzing over and alive. On the other hand in the track Travel, it's a bit more "[Champagne] goes to the country". Yoohei's high vocals with a twang of American accent push this song all the way to Americana cheeseville and it sits off-kilter with the other songs.

Wanna Get Out is an intriguingly mixed track. Sandwiched between the odd intro and ending of stereotypical gong bashes and jovial pentatonic Chinese guitar is a juicy filling full of funk bass, staccato phrases, sudden syncopation, punk rock and a world of rhythmic drumming deliciousness. It's a song where everyone gets their moment: Hiroyuki's exquisite bassline in the verses plays perfectly with the vocalist's sharp delivery of half-sung, half-rapped lines; Masaki gives us the simple and jokey Chinese riff but also spine-tingling improv and rapid, complex solos; Satoyasu drums like a demon throughout, having to deal with sudden changes in rhythm, abruptly stopping and starting and then just rattling out like a fearsome machine gun. "Wanna get out of this place to have a Turkish delight", indeed.

The guys say that they've been inspired by Brit-rock band Oasis, but normally there isn't much of their sound to be heard in [Champagne]'s compositions. There are hints of it in this album however: the more relaxed rock of Forever Young is an example, with the unusually stripped back drum part and simple yet catchy tune sounding like a nod to the Gallaghers and co. A similar vibe is in another of the more tame songs, Namida ga koboresou, and This Is Teenage is distinctly 90s Brit-rock with its simple youthfulness and carefree attitude as suggested in its title.

The band's fourth album definitely gives a lot, from heavy rock to nostalgic pop. A couple of the tunes lack the attack that would normally be expected from them, but all the strong tracks more than make up for that. It may be "Me No Do Karate.", but the guys have proved that it packs a punch.

Check out the bizarre MVs for Kick&Spin and Stimulator below.

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