review - 03.02.2016 19:01

With YELLOW, the ladies from Osaka make it seven out of seven.

2015 was an unusual year for SCANDAL fans, as it was the first since 2009 not to see the release of a new studio album from the Osakan quartet. Now with a successful their first world tour under the belts, the band are back with a fresh volley of slickly-produced pop-rock.

YELLOW opens in a manner very uncharacteristic of recent SCANDAL efforts; with a two-minute garage rock jam called Room No.7. This throwback to the band’s indies days doesn’t the set the tone for the album, however, much of which is taken up by the kind of easy-going, radio-friendly pop-rock that has made SCANDAL regular fixtures of the Oricon Weekly Singles Chart. For its part, Sisters, the best of these offerings on YELLOW, peaked at #9 when it was put out as a single in September last year.

Unlike a great many of their Oricon rivals, SCANDAL has never been one to treat their full-length releases as collections of singles with a few filler tracks tacked on. Instead, they’ve long been in the habit of using gaps between the setlist fuel to explore rock styles outside their trademark sound. The most intriguing of these experiments on YELLOW is Heaven na kibun, a foray into grunge-era alternative rock that makes heavy use of the sudden shifts in dynamics and tempo that typified the genre in the early '90s.

As per SCANDAL convention – or maybe J-pop convention more broadly – most of the album’s songs are strewn with stray English lyrics, but they go one step further with the final track of YELLOW, with an English version of your song. Originally the B-side on 2014 single Yoake no Ryuseigun, the clarity of HARUNA and TOMOMI’s vocals give grounds for optimism should the band ever think to record a full album in English.

So, what more is there to say for YELLOW? Ten years and seven albums later, SCANDAL have yet to miss the mark. Oh, and in case you were wondering if LOVE ME DO was a cover of The Beatles’ classic, it’s not.

YELLOW is available worldwide via iTunes and for pre-order via JPU Records.
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