TsuShiMaMiRe – Pregnant Fantasy – 3.5/5
I bet this this starting to sound like a broken record now, but once more I find myself having difficulty putting this band into a single category except maybe experimental rock. With a name that combines a number of words (“Tsushima” being the bassists surname, “Ma” again coming from the guitarist/vocalist Mari and “Mi” from Mizue the drummer, arranged with “Mamire” at the end which roughly means 'mixed up' in Japanese) it feels oddly suited to them, each member bringing something to the table and mixing it all up into the one song style. And it isn't just how it all sounds that remains peculiar as the very album title probably suggests; with lyrics heavily invested in sex, death and food – often all at the same time – tracks such as 'Camaboco' devoted to singing about how upset the fish cake (personified by the lead vocalist) is that it hasn't met a grizzly fate in the hot pot yet exemplifying my point.
With a hefty bass presence many of the tracks take on a funk filled stance, remaining simple by design but inexplicably catchy and allowing the guitars to layer themselves on top. Content to let the bass carry much of the rhythm, the guitars – also played by the vocalist – often relegate themselves to simple ska punk chords, or quite often don't play at all so she can focus on the vocals, but where they really excel is in the occasional interludes and short solos emerge that sound like some odd combination of “Big Black” and “The Ventures;” chaotic and eccentric and yet with a smooth groove to it all. With drumming showing no shortage in creativity and vocals that often feels less like singing than it does a batshit insane Japanese woman angstily screaming or cutely singing her joys (perhaps because she actually is just a mental hospital escapee) it all kinda works to create a tone that whilst not bizarre is certainly 'a little bit different.'
It's not all entirely convincing though; certainly the quirkiness of the band is largely lost on me as all the lyrics are naturally in their native tongue (though a later track called “My Brain Shortcake” has English passages, including an intro which invites listeners to eat her brain) and the limitations of having three musicians at times makes itself known with everything sounding a little thin; the basic bass melodies and slow pace of the drums often supplying the entirety of the bands sound. There are times when everything gets moving and it all clicks together, but this isn't always the case and this filler can at times become a problem in an album clocking a mere 32 minutes. I'm still not entirely sure what should be made of this album; its quirky and original but the moments of excellence are undermined by elements of boredom making for a fairly inconsistent effort, but not one without promise for future.
Highlights: (Track 2), Tea Time Ska (Track 5)