Wednesday, 2 August 2017

EP REVIEW: BRATS - Ainikoiyo / Nounai Shoukyo Game

You can say what you like about Japanese "kawaii-core" group LADYBABY, but there's no denying that the two girls fronting the band, Rie Kaneko and Rei Kuromiya, can sing. As it turns out, Kuromiya has long had her own band with her sister and some friends, called BRATS and after breaking out with two singles becoming theme tunes for an anime and a movie, they've released the international edition of their first EP, アイニコイヨ / 脳内消去ゲーム (Ainikoiyo / Nounai Shoukyo Game).

BRATS have been together since 2011 and Kuromiya is still only 16 years old herself, so she still has years ahead of her in the music industry. However, with Ainikoiyo / Nounai Shoukyo Game, she's already showing a considerable ability to write songs herself. The first of two studio tracks on the EP, "Ainikoiyo", is a catchy pop rock number lifted by its clever use of electronics to complement the guitars of Hinako, and bassist Aya Kuromiya (Rei's older sister). Rei's vocal style is very different from the higher range used in the bubblegum metal of LADYBABY, instead using a lower tone to give the music more of a punk edge. She knows how to write a catchy hook as the chorus will get stuck in your head for days in "Ainikoyo", which earned fame after being chosen as the opening theme for Sino-Japanese anime To Be Hero.

The other studio track here is "Nounai Shoukyo Game", the theme for Japanese movie Slavemen. This track is considerably more rock oriented than "Ainikoyo" and has a lot more focus on Hinako's guitars, with the electronics only acting as a means to flesh out the track and act in the background. The energy in this track is completely different to the previous song as well, as it sets out to get the listener pumped up and go mental in the pit of a live show. The vocals are catchy as ever, with backing vocals from Hinako and Aya being more prominent among the constant change of pace and relentless hooks thrown at you. It's amazing how far BRATS have grown as songwriters at such a young age and they're surely destined for big things, whether or not Rei's career in LADYBABY progresses.

Following from the two singles, the rest of the EP (the international edition, at least) treats us to several live cuts, including 4 tracks that have yet to be recorded in the studio. The instrumental at the beginning of the live version of "Ainikoiyo" can definitely throw off the listener with its industrial metal-esque sound before kicking into the actual song, while "Nakattakoto" is pure punk rock. "Pain" is perhaps the darkest track on Ainikoiyo / Nounai Shoukyo Game though, playing with the sort of hard rock that made The Pretty Reckless big Stateside and presenting a more personal lyrical side from Kuroyima, singing lines such as 'Nobody hurts like me'.

The excellent production of these live recordings on Ainikoiyo / Nounai Shoukyo Game gives us a good idea of what these tracks will sound like when they're finally given proper studio treatment, and the sooner that happens the better. The potential in these tracks, ranging from upbeat pop-rock to darker, more introspective hard rock (even with some slight metal influence) is huge and, with the members of BRATS still being so young, you have to wonder where they'll be in five, even ten years.

Listen to the EP below via Deezer. Follow BRATS on Facebook.