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Peace Heavy mk II

少女A(※17才) (Shoujo A (17-sai)) by Mathilda

How does a different sound every release read to you?  

4 members have voted

  1. 1. How does a different sound every release read to you?

    • If it's done well, it means a band is diverse and can't be pigeonholed
      1
    • It means they aren't sure what they want to sound like
      2
    • I don't notice things like that -- just give me some good tunes
      0
    • Other (comment in the thread)
      0
    • I like polls
      1


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少女A(※17才) (2019)

 

Mathilda are a band I was immediately on board for. They debuted with a messy look that used every color in the crayon box, as well as whatever was found in the scrapbooking drawer. They even shot a PV in front of that silver tinsel background from 2004 that I was convinced was never ever going to be making an appearance in vkei again, along with a sound that was clearly inspired by Aicle。. What began to happen, however, is that they eventually grew into something else. And then something different. And then something else again. It seemed like each release in their relatively frequent release schedule came with a change that read more like a loss of identity, rather than a metamorphosis. Would their sophomoric mini-album yield the same results?

 

We start with カバートアグレッション (Covert Aggression). As this title implies, this song is on the heavier side and is more nü-metal influenced than many of their past works. I recall enjoying the main guitar riffs, but ended up disliking the chorus because it felt disjointed and didn’t have the real bite I wanted it to. In fact, it reads as annoying. What’s more is that this sounds like they used minimal dubbing, and as a result their use of only one guitar becomes glaringly obvious. It’s perfectly possible to be vkei with one guitar, even though bands dub in up to 6 guitar lines to make the song sound full and to cover up and weaknesses in capability, but in this case Covert Aggression would have benefited from this technique. The single guitar line, coupled with the lack of any sort of synth or mellotron harmonies, leave this song feeling like they forgot to put the hooks in. I will say though, their bassist definitely stepped it up in this song. So far, we are off to a bit of a rocky start.

 

 

Next comes the title track. I don’t have the lyrics in front of me, but I assume there’s something about murdering teenagers in here based on the album art that has a school girl’s corpse jutting out of a sewer pipe. Everything I said about the previous song, reverse. Instead of more guitar and focused melodies, we have simpler bass lines, several guitar parts, and a lot of synth and piano inserts strung between each musical phrase. For the context I assume this song is played in, it is surprisingly upbeat sounding. They experiment with a bit of clean tones and circus inspired melodies (my favorite, honestly) throughout the section about 2/3 in. The other main melodies of this song are a patchwork not unlike what Lack-co. used to do, and also like Lack-co., it is sometimes hard to see how these different ideas actually relate when they’re being tied together by brute force. I do enjoy the bright and sparkly guitar work during the chorus for the way it reminds me of things like CanzeL, but as I sit here writing this, I cannot help but notice that I can only say something positive about this song when I am dissecting it into its respective pieces. 少女A (Shoujo A) has its moments, but the jigsaw pieces seem like they were forced to fit. This ends up being a solid “middle of the road” for me. It may win over some new fans, but it is far from being their best work.

 

Vanquish is a bouncy rush song. It starts off with some ripping paper sound effects (shade towards their 0.1g drama?) and rushes head first into its first verse. The chorus of the song is accompanied by constant blast beats, in spite of the almost entire cleanly song vocals and surprisingly slow pacing. Immediately after the chorus is a pretty good break down, followed by a rehashing of the main guitar melody. Towards the end of the song there is an acoustic break that repeats the guitar theme, before bleeding into the last chorus. Vanquish is rather short lived, clocking in at just over 3 minutes. I did really like this track, and it sounds like it was written for some wild furi when being performed live.

 

はみがきのうた (Hamigaki no Uta) starts IMMEDIATELY at the end of the previous song and grabs your attention with really high pitched guitar akin to something Marina-era Vidoll would have done. I am always surprised when this happens because I think it’s just a bonus round of Vanquish, but it’s definitely it’s own animal. This song is more demented sounding than everything that’s come before it and really has me feeling like I’m listing to a modern version of something like “サンガコロンダ,” except it’s about...brushing your teeth? Dental hygiene is important. The chorus is a lot brighter than I originally anticipated, with some clean tone accented chords and that twinkling guitar sound that Lynch. does, before returning to the darker motif the song established earlier. I could have done without the weird fairytale sounding bridge in the middle of the second verse, but whatever. This is one of their better songs 🦷

 

Confi Tranquilizer is a perfect example of what I meant by “they keep trying to figure out what the hell they want to sound like,” because we totally shift gears here. Instead of being a distant Diru relative, watered down by 6 generations of visual kei extinctions, we are presented with a chip-tune song dug up from Metronome’s early career. Pulsing electronica backbeats during the (scream-sung) verse, very little guitar flourishes, and the very slightest hint of a vocoder (just a little, as a treat). Needless to say, this stark change in direction had me befuddled. But once the ice cream headache died down, and I really could listen to this with my brain turned off a bit, I realized two things.

 

1- this is actually fun?

2- when compared to their very early releases, this song is one of the possible paths the natural progression of a neo-osare (I’m not calling them “kirakira” because what they draw influences from are quite clearly osare bands from the late 2000’s) would take.

 

In a sense, this is them giving me what I asked for. I didn’t recognize it at first, but this beepboop bop could have very easily been some sort of Aicle or ALiBi b-side. I am half tempted to theorize that there’s some Kingdom Hearts level delusional storyline going on here where none of the plot makes sense until you put it together, but then again, this is indies vkei and that’s giving a band here for the easy puss way too much credit.


 

クレプトマニア (Kleptomania) - Spooky music box? Early Loop Ash band guitar riffs?

 

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This is a true return to what I had expected of this band from the jump. The song that this immediately reminds me of is Aicle’s “僕は魔王”. I love the little flourishes between phrases and manic outbursts throughout. The chorus isn’t the best to me— compared to the rest of the song it starts off a bit lethargic and doesn’t build into anything extremely catchy. One thing I want to emphasize is that even though they are doing something I’ve been asking for, that doesn’t make them immune to criticism or give them a free pass. I find myself forgiving too many shortcomings in music just because it reminds me of something else, or because it is a style I enjoy. I definitely appreciate Kleptomania for what it is, but it isn’t the acme for this band.

 

毒キノコ (Doku Kinoko): ??? Three times in a row?? This is bright song with twinkly synthesizer, playful guitar lines that are often scale runs, and those whiny vocals that osare was known for. A very surprising end to this mini album, but it was definitely long overdue. An enjoyable listen, but I don’t know if there’s much under the novelty for me. A good entry to their discography to show the judges #diversity.

 

At the end of the album, I am left with a question. Which is the real Mathilda? There’s the heavier, psychotic and menhera band that lives in the first 4 tracks, and then there’s there 2000’s homage-kei band that appeared in the last 3. When it comes time for them to disband, I would not be surprised if they made two collection albums for each of these personalities, if that’s even what they are. It would be one thing if they had two distinct styles as a theme, but as others have said, I think this is more due to a lack of vision and trying things until they stick, rather than a calculated presentation. Shoujo A is actually a good mini-album. It might win you over if you’ve never tried them before, and it may even win you back if you peaced out after their second guitarist quit. It just feels like their discography has the track lists for each release randomly sorted, which makes looking at the bigger picture unsatisfying.

Edited by Peace Heavy mk II

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