Koi to Kakumei to URBANGARDE
Review by David Cirone
URBANGARDE’s Koi to Kakumei to URBANGARDE is a well-earned “best” album, capsulizing over four years of the “Trauma Techno Pop” band daring audiences to love them, understand them, and hate them at the same time. Smacking our senses around since 2009, URBANGARDE has made their madness increasingly fun.
New tracks “Hatsukoi Jigoku Hen” and “Tokai no Alice” set a playful, high-energy tone right from the start, with “Tokai no Alice” emerging as a razor-sharp expose of a cute schoolgirl’s tour of lies around Tokyo. The delightful melody, fantastic chorus, and the over-the-top music video make it even more potent. Yokotan’s performance is irreplaceable.
After the 2 new tracks, the album progresses in chronological order, reprising cool early tracks such as “Sailor Fuku wo Nuganaide” and “Shuusei Shugisa” through recent major-label releases “Sayonara Subculture” and “Yameru Idol”.
While Yokotan’s smooth, controlled delivery and Tenma’s explosive counterpoint vocals have always been at the forefront of the URBANGARDE experience, listening to this collection made it clear how important keyboardist Yachi has been to the creating the band’s unique magical landscape. Check out the eerie melody of “Concrete Girl” and the intricate variations in “Skirt Kakumei”.
Oddly enough, as URBANGARDE’s recent material has gained more polish and a true “pop” sound, their subculture mission might have become even more diabolical in light of mainstream acceptance. The theatrical elements of their videos still have a Bertolt Brecht-like approach of bold themes and intense imagery, but their approach has become so seductive and energetic, it’s hard to pull away even though their lyrics are mercilessly skewering social norms and pop distractions (“Yameru Idol”). Chances are, they’re sticking it to you and me for at least one guilty pleasure we hold dear.
Koi to Kakumei to URBANGARDE is a great introduction for anyone who’s new to URBANGARDE’s world, and a real treat for fans who want to fee the crack of the whip one more time.