Geiger Counter Culture
Review by David Cirone
URBANGARDE’s albums have always struck me as mad scientist creations — vocally and musically, there’s an assemblage of parts that shouldn’t work together, but somehow manage to create a machine that produces magnificent, unique results.
Yokotan’s soft, coquettish vocals are the spotlight of much of Geiger Counter Culture, and they’re made more effective by the mix of fellow vocalist TENMA’s harsh, domineering voice. TENMA sometimes seems to be punching the songs with his voice, especially in opening track “Mahou Shoujo to Yobanaide.”
“Sayonara Subculture” and “Yameru Idol” are shining achievements in songwriting. “Yameru’s” smart lyrics skewer Japan’s idol religion, and I can’t imagine any other band pulling this off with such a mixture of elegance and malice.
URBANGARDE’s variety of music styles shows off their skill and flexibility. They could easily lay down some pop-by-numbers melodies, but they’re weird by choice, and that makes them even cooler. The band throws down hard behind Tenma’s rap on “Comic Zasshi.” “Gantaitan” throws back to vintage Blondie-styled vocals and synthesizers, and “Tokyo Tenshi” takes a turn into sock-hop swing, conjuring images of a 50s prom URBANGARDE-style.
As strange as things get, URBANGARDE remains true to their pop-based philosophy. The album stays fresh after multiple plays, and they’re having so much fun that it’s impossible to resist joining the madness.