MAA – BubbleMan Engine

October 18, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Posted in MAA | Leave a comment
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  1. FREE Virus ZONE
  2. Monkeybone City
  3. GOLD LION
  4. F.B
  5. King&Queen&Kiz
  6. Mayday
  7. No Bra sleep walk
  8. Babysitter Wana
  9. Hangover Payback
  10. New Moon
  11. Ballerina Brain System
  12. OKay
  13. Tomorrow @ Your Kingdom (THE LOWBROWS remix)
  14. come again
  15. Ballerina Brain System  -michitomo Remix-

I became acquainted with MAA earlier this year when she was sparking up a huge interest on blogs and forums. Her mini-album was a fantastic addition to the Japanese electro scene and she won me over with her quirkiness. BubbleMan Engine continues where her mini left off, keeping the same style but giving it a light makeover. The album is a mix of playful tunes with truly bizarre and hilarious lyrics that anyone can enjoy as well as mature and insightful songs that balance the fun out. There’s something about MAA that makes her stand out from other artists and it really works to her advantage. She’s literally the craziest artist I’ve ever seen. She has that weird cute factor that other Japanese electro/techno artists have but her image is more mature and sexier.

FREE Virus ZONE starts the wacky journey into MAA’s eccentric mind but it’s actually quite normal in comparison to some of the other songs. It is introduced by the chorus with its sparkling array of synths that later becomes modified into a more upbeat version complete with a driving percussion beat and more synth work. The role of the instruments are reversed in the verses, the percussion takes the centre stage while throbbing synths back it up. The pre-chorus kicks the beats up a notch and MAA receives a stronger dose of vocoder on her voice. The following choruses are much better due the inclusion of the full instrumentation. It’s upbeat, catchy and not too weird that it’ll alienate new listeners. It’s a good step into MAA’s music and a strong opener. Monkeybone City opens up with a guitar and the percussion comes in when she begins singing. The verses are pretty straightforward and the melody has a catchy groove to it but the song really pops in the chorus. Synths accompany the guitar and it’s infectious, especially the “make me believe” parts. Her delivery is quite forceful and the section after the first chorus features some distorted vocals before moving to the next verse. Things get kooky for the bridge where MAA’s vocals are distorted and she sings in an interesting manner. The screams and distorted backing vocals at the end are pretty awesome as well.

Next up is GOLD LION and it’s not what I was expecting at all. This is the emotional piece on the record and it’s nice to see her tone it down like this. Technically, it’s not really toned down but for MAA it definitely is. Her voice seeps in unaffected by enhancements and the “I lost my soul” lines are emotionally charged. She sounds beautiful during these moments. I really enjoy how the melody starts off minimal, moves into a sweeping pre-chorus with a drum beat and finally transitions to the most uplifting hook the album has to offer. The hyperactive synths blend with the other beats and it comes out as a feel-good melody. It’s a great contrast of sounds and the constant build-up gives it that something special. Things finally start to get weird with F.B despite following the previous songs’ light sound. The verses are filled with fluorescent synths, a slick guitar and a static drum beat. She makes reference to Gwen Stefani, The Beatles and Ringo Star and the pre-chorus crescendos as MAA employs a deliciously sweet tone laced with a light vocoder effect. When I said the track was weird I meant the lyrics for the chorus and they’re insane, “my little favorite bitches/my little miss favorite boobie bitches.” It’s hilarious, the melody increases ever so slightly into a more addictive upbeat sound and her airy, raspy tone goes so well with it. The song ends with glitchy synths and MAA gagging which makes me love this tune even more.

I knew King&Queen&Kiz was going to be awesome due to its wicked intro. The percussion is extremely eccentric, her childish vocals get aggressive as the music crescendos with video game synths and the lyrics are, once again, wacky, “got a gay ass bitch psycho.” This melody dissipates while a pounding drum and synth beat take over. The pre-chorus sees a robotic MAA accompanied with nice backing vocals and wonky synths while the chorus features a stronger synth melody and energetic singing. The song just keeps getting stranger as it comes to a breakdown after the chorus with whiny beats and vocals. It keeps your attention locked on to it and it eventually comes to its greatest moment, the bridge, where she spews out the most random lyrics, “Aurora, donky, whiskey/FRankie, yo mama, COCONA/Abracadabra, Pixy,Pony-ta, Banvi-no, LEGO/UNO, BATTLE SHIP, Monopoly.” She continues to amaze me and her crazy antics never get boring. This is one of the best songs on the record but it’s upstaged by the next track, Mayday. Her distorted voice enters along with a buzzing electro beat and in the background she shouts “mayday” with the sounds of a plane crashing. It’s amusing, fun and a great way to start the track. Moreover, the instrumentation is marvelous. The synths are captivating, deliciously addicting and the pre-chorus takes it further as it introduces a Middle Eastern influence and MAA employs a fantastic high tone that blends into the sexy melody. The exotic touch remains in the intense dance chorus and the English lyrics are so catchy. It’s so energetic and it’s seriously the best song she’s done.

No Bra sleep walk isn’t as good as the others but it has a vibrant retro synth arrangement that helps liven it up. The verses are your standard electropop but it’s pleasing to the ear and the melody remains the same throughout the song. The chorus is more engaging and I love the post-chorus where she stutters “but I try, try, try, try/and I cry, cry, cry, cry.” All in all, it’s a decent song. Luckily, Babysitter Wana makes up for the previous song’s faults with its funny, dancey goodness. With a distorted intro, a thumping dance beat, techno-infused verses and an infectious chorus with cute vocals, this song is a hit. Only MAA could make a song with lyrics like “I need a new babysitter every night” a fun track to groove and sing along to. The cute nature of this track is too hard to resist and while it may not be the most creative thing she’s done, it’s really nice. Hangover Payback makes a much-needed appearance with its fantastic arrangement. It starts off with some ambient synths, then percussion is added and finally the rest of the synths come in to make it more upbeat. I love the dance yet relaxed feel of the chorus and the English lyrics, “in my dream” and “come back home…come back,” are great. Her voice is emotional during these parts and it adds a sentimental layer to the track. The synths in the bridge are awesome and the euphoric backing vocals are lovely.

New Moon throws in dark elements that have been missing from this album but it still manages to make it lighter than the stuff off her mini. The dramatic flair in the verses from the creeping synths and stuttering percussion gives it a dark edge that sadly vanishes in the chorus. It’s upbeat but it’s not overly powerful and there’s a soft feel to it. I would have liked the darker sounds to play a larger role because the song would have benefitted greatly from it. At least the bridge consists of spooky vocoded vocals that also appear in the pre-chorus and I really enjoy them. Ballerina Brain System is going to go down as a MAA classic and it’s the song that started it all. This iconic tune is incredibly fun and will easily have you wanting to move along to the beat. The percussion and the synths in the verses are delicious and MAA’s vocals are vocoded for the entire track. The song becomes a lot more upbeat during the chorus and MAA sings with more energy. The chorus’ atmosphere is really bright and just gives off a great feeling that will have you smiling. The English lyrics throughout the song are very playful and addicting, “big fat boo,” and “so honey bunny/dance to u, dance to u dance…/so honey bunny/sexy ballerina.” Overall, this is a perfect track.

OKay is the first song that introduced her lighter sound to fans. I never listened to it despite it being released a few months ago but it is a huge change of pace from her previous album. It’s her most lighthearted tune and her soft vocals are joined by a guitar and drum beat in the verses. She increases her singing for the pre-chorus where atmospheric synths pour in before moving into the uplifting hook. “I’m gonna be OKay /until I see U again,” she happily coos with a delightful and energetic voice. The robotic backing vocals fit in really well and the bridge darkens the mood with a heavy bassline. Tomorrow @ Your Kingdom (THE LOWBROWS remix) is a bland remix. All the great things about the original, its bright and feel-good arrangement, are done away with and replaced by a gritty dubstep beat that feels out-of-place. Her vocals don’t flow with it at all and it ends up being an awkward mess. I like that they tried to do something different but it didn’t turn out so good. The rapid percussion is the bridge helps a little as does the quicker tempo in the final chorus but not by much. come again closes the physical release and it’s from the compilation album m-flo TRIBUTE ~stitch the future and past~. MAA’s voice is heavily vocoded to suit the spazzy electro beat and it’s really catchy. The chorus is fast-paced and MAA’s singing style is toned down compared to her usual stuff and she still sounds awesome. VERBAL delivers a rap after every chorus and the first is okay but I like the second better. He raps quickly and it sounds cool with the wobbling synths. It’s a typical m-flo song but for MAA it’s a great inclusion in her music library. The iTunes bonus, Ballerina Brain System -michitomo Remix- is a drug-induced concoction of synths and the lyrics are all in English. It’s much better than the other remix but it’s still not as good as the original. The verses are a bombardment of repeated words while the chorus is sung properly. It’s fun but that’s about it.

Conclusion: BubbleMan Engine may not be as great as Monkey Kingdom but it’s still the best full-length album to be released all year in Japan. I would have liked to see darker productions like Ghost Enemy and Virgin Killer Santa but at the same time I like that the album is very cohesive due to the focus on light arrangements. The first half is flawless but in the second it stumbles because a few of the songs sound too similar and it leads to underwhelming productions. Other than these few songs, this is a strong, focused record that’s incredibly fun, hilarious and insane. MAA keeps everything fresh with her bat-shit crazy style and she’s the most interesting artists to debut in Japan in a very long time.

Recommended Tracks: Mayday, King&Queen&Kiz, Ballerina Brain System, GOLD LION, FREE Virus ZONE and F.B

Rating

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