Review by David Cirone
From “Kaze Ikki’s” opening chorus of “FUDAN-DAN-DAN-DAN-FUDANJUKU!” the group’s blend of strength and femininity is spot-on. On their new album OTOKO, FUDANJUKU has got the balance right.
No longer performing as ultra-kawaii-unit Nakano Fujoshi Sisters, the blending of masculine appearance and feminine voice has come together much more naturally. They’re helped along by polished production (listen for the cool synths behind “Love Spider’s” dreamy harmonies) and a clear confidence that’s grown since their formation in 2008.
Standard for a pop-vocal group this large, many tracks feature the switch-off between group harmony and solo verses — that might be a challenge for pop fans not into the “idol” genre, but there’s so much musical variety that OTOKO avoids the trap of blending together. Through the experience of this album, it feels like we’re watching FUDANJUKU grow up right in front of us.
“Nora Neko Maria” brings back some of the playful chords of their debut single “Otokozaka,” and “MOVE” is a slick dance-rock number. “Tobitate! FU-RANGER” gives the spotlight to the group’s comedy/superhero personas, complete with dramatic skit dialogue from their live shows, and “Tanada Mai’s” driving beat is pure adventure.
FUDANJUKU’s vocals have grown, too, and you’ll hear that clearly in tracks like “Kaze ni Notte” and “My Hometown.” They’ve also scored the perfect farewell track with “Ame Tokidoki Hare Nochi Niji” (from the anime Ginga e Kickoff!) and Akazono Kojirou just knocks it out of the park on her solo.