Otoboke Beaver: Super Champion Album Review

In John Waters’ 1994 domestic satire Serial Mom, a perfectly styled Kathleen Turner murders criminals of etiquette with household objects—a telephone, a leg of lamb. One of her victims has an unfortunate encounter with a plummeting AC unit; another is run through with a fire poker. On their new album Super Champion, Japanese rock quartet Otoboke Beaver make similar munitions of the mundane, weaponizing petty jealousy, maternal conventions, and feminine duties to blistering effect. Louder, faster, fiercer than their 2019 LP Itekoma Hitsthe 20-minute, 18-track Super Champion goes down like a tart smattering of face-scrunching, neon candy.

The word “champon” is a Japanese noun that suggests a hodgepodge or jumble. It is also apparently a soup—a Nagasaki-born ramen made with hunks of seafood, pork, and veggies. Otoboke Beaver interprets the word through their maximalist songs, which change direction as abruptly as a thwacked pinball. The band—including lead vocalist and guitarist Accorinrin, guitarist Yoyoyoshie, bassist Hirochan, and drummer Kahokiss—have said that “champon” also relates to their “genreless” music. There are components of speed metal, butt rock, riot grrrl, and even pop, but to classify this record as anything other than punk seems like a reach. Still, with titles like “You’re No Hero Shut the Fuck Up You Man-Whore” and “Dirty Old Man Fart Is Waiting for My Reaction,” these ferocious blasts—some under 20 seconds long—are rousing contortions of the style.

Super Champion is crammed with noise: Hirochan sprints up and down his fretboard, Kahokiss punishes his drum kit, and Yoyoyoshie discharges endless rounds of screeching riffs. The lyrics, fired off in quick, sharp bursts, are both menacing and hilarious. On the two-part “Do You Want Me to Send a DM,” Otoboke Beaver turns a familiar action into a ticking time bomb. “Do you want me to send a DM to your girlfriend who knows nothing?” the band warns in unison. “Direct mail direct trouble… Screenshot I make it visible.” Their omission of what exactly is in these messages make the threat all the more sinister. Could it be nudes? An active dating profile? A particularly incriminating Google search history? Otoboke Beaver knows that when it comes to both punk songwriting and blackmail, less is often more.

The turbocharged verse of “Leave Me Alone! No, Stay With Me!” and “I Checked Your Cellphone” are similar spoofs on toxic affairs. The former is frantic and cyclical; Accorinrin shouts the title over and over, her repetition mimicking the emotional volleying of a codependent relationship. “I Checked Your Cellphone” presents this behavior in overdrive. Propelled by Kahokiss’ machine gun drumming and Yoyoyoshie’s sawtooth guitar, Accorinrin flails through her compulsions. “I don’t know why!” she shrieks. “I couldn’t help looking into/And he found a match on a dating app!” It’s at once a condemnation and endorsement of paranoia: Should you really punish yourself for peeking if your instincts were spot-on? Otoboke Beaver think not: Accorinrin would rather hurl a “full lineup of household goods” at her shady boyfriend instead.

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