I Review Things: Minna no Kodomo-chan | “A World Without Walls”

All right, let’s not do that time-wasting thing when it comes to reviews anymore; when new stuff, especially new stuff from particular featured idols and honorary community favorites of Homicidols.com. Minna no Kodomo-chan gave us Kabe no Nai Sekai (A World Without Walls) to listen to, to embrace, to punish ourselves for sins more imagined than real by driving kawaiicore grotesqueries directly into our dreams. If all we ever had to go on was the other day’s MV, one might think that this is a one-way trip to video game hell, but we also know that Everybody’s Children can get down in lots of different, weird, wonderfully loud ways. What would their first album deliver on?

On to the review!

Homicidols Album Review Scale:

Five Heartbleeds  One full Heartbleed, the logo of Homicidols.com, used for reviews: Both in relation to itself and music as a whole, this album could not possibly be any better.
Four Heartbleeds One full Heartbleed, the logo of Homicidols.com, used for reviews: This is a very damn good record, and you should probably buy it and listen to it all the time and consider starting a website dedicated to the artists that made it and albums like it.
Three Heartbleeds One full Heartbleed, the logo of Homicidols.com, used for reviews: More good than bad, but not great; one or two awesome songs can’t get it over the hump.
Two Heartbleeds One full Heartbleed, the logo of Homicidols.com, used for reviews: More bad than good, and lacks the kind of standout track that can take it out of the crappiness wallow.
One Heartbleed One full Heartbleed, the logo of Homicidols.com, used for reviews: This is a bad, bad piece of work. Do not buy this.
Zero Heartbleeds: People associated with this should be ashamed of themselves; there’s pride to be had in any effort made to meet a goal, but that’s your only reward. Please don’t make music anymore.

The stars are aligning for Everybody’s Children; after doing their time in the further fringes of the Trash-Up!!-dominated underground, their progressive emergence of the past 18 months has culminated in band gigs, one-mans, growing recognition, (management-aided) winning the Corenament title and, now, this album. History is lousy with the remains of idol groups who had a moment and then never quite grasped the potential therein, so it’s dangerous even for me to presume that things will automatically be different for Kodomo-chan just because I happen to favor them; it would be disingenuous, though, to pretend that this is just another album, especially not for those of us whose first impressions of the group were along the lines of “OMG THIS IS EVEN MORE IMPOSSIBLE THAN EVERY OTHER THING I THINK MY PSYCHE JUST SHATTERED.”

A neat thing about albums, though? They give the artist a chance to lay out a fuller vision than they could normally have achieved in shorter, individualized releases, even when said individualized releases are included on said album (and many are here); you pick and choose from what you have available, add some new things, and voila. Acknowledging that, then, we can call the fuller Kodomo-chan vision as coherence-challenged as many of their songs come across — certainly attractive, and never not interesting, even though you may have a difficult time describing exactly why. It’s going all-in on combining musical viscera until a funky off-mission golem emerges, puts on a nice leather jacket and decides to hit up a Brian Eno tribute show. That’s pretty much what Kabe no Nai Sekai presents, after all.

I can’t help but draw a straight-line connection to another stylistic confetti bomb of a debut album — Kaqriyo Terror Architect’s Cultural Mixing — in its embrace of very little conventional and a whole lot of commitment to the whirling contradiction between musical savagery and downright uplifting idol choral notes. It’s an album that brings some of the single hardest-hitting moments that you’ll hear from anything short of Thy Art Is Murder, but still carries with it those key singalong pop melodies that make the songs memorable, if not exactly radio-friendly, in that distinctly Kodomo-chan way.

Are there re-releases? There are. Are they re-recorded? To various degrees. Old favorites like “FUKAZUME” and “SHINE BA II” got a nice shine for featured spots at the front of the album, but re-working familiar material, material that’s been successful in the past, is a risky proposition — even if you get it just right, it’s going to sound alien to familiar ears. I found the re-everythinged “OKI TARA SIN DE TAI” (aka “I wish I were dead when I wake up”) didn’t work better than the original in any capacity until the outro, to the point that the song felt a little bit ruined. On the flipside, though, “ASA WO KOROSHI TAI” picked up some extra nastiness, and “FUTARI HA NAKAYOSHI” got pumped-up touches that make it feel very fresh.

Among the new material, there’s a lot of heavy in here; where the heavy is lacking, it’s made up for with lots of beats and/or wild programming. I note those things as matters of common interest (you’re on a site called Homicidols, after all), but it also needs to be noted that there are some legitimately pretty songwriting moments on the album, not just an embrace of the loud and angry. “ANO NE” is a really nice little idol alt-rock song with an earworm of a lead guitar and cool synths, like you might hear from Dots or a more upbeat SAKA-SAMA; “SHOUJO A” is a straight-ahead kawaiicore romp with light easycore tendencies (right down to the split vocals) that sounds like it would be right at home opening up the second stage at Warped Tour. Or, if you do prefer your music deliciously chaotic and noisy almost for the sheer hell of it, lock horns with the closing track, “FUKOU NO HANA”, which plays out like particularly twisted reject from a Codomomental songwriting session.

Overall, this is a good album with a lot of more-than-good material on it. It’s not quite cohesive enough to be perfect, and not every track works as well as you might like, but will you enjoy listening to it? You will. Will you love it? You might. It goes further afield than you might expect from the girls who gave us this, or this, and that’s really cool. May this be the year of Everybody’s Children.

Score: One full Heartbleed, the logo of Homicidols.com, used for reviews One full Heartbleed, the logo of Homicidols.com, used for reviews One full Heartbleed, the logo of Homicidols.com, used for reviews One full Heartbleed, the logo of Homicidols.com, used for reviews