Honestly the schoolgirl uniforms should have been a warning. Yet Osaka J-Rock group SCANDAL made such catchy music that I couldn’t help but be enchanted (not in a bound-for-a-database sorta way) despite the super-clear red flag being waved dramatically in my face. Their music for the most part sounded like more-than-competent J-Rock and once in a while they completely killed it. Then 2010 came and the situation got dicey fast…not to sound like one of “darn kids with their skateboards and LeBron James” dudes but when they stopped looking like high school students and started resembling the “schoolgirls” on the posters in the “only over 18” stores I walk by in Osaka sometimes, the musical quality took a quick nosedive. The outfit shift signaled a group ready to become mainstream darlings, but unfortunately also meant the end of enjoyable music from the SCANDAL camp, their once intriguing sound transformed into the sorta of stuff played over cartoon end credits…which, oh, happened. SCANDAL once seemed capable of rising above both the trappings of J-Rock and creepy clothing choices, yet at the end of 2010 they succumbed to both.
Yet a new hope for the high school set rose in the past year, and they wear regular threads. LILY OF THE VALLEY hit on everything SCANDAL once seemed so capable of, but “いつの日か” (above) steps up a bit more by also having a very clear emotional agenda, the vocals a bit more pained than SCANDAL ever seemed to get. Once again a high-school-aged rock band pulls me in, and I sit anxious to see what they do next. Just remember…you can sell records and not be a sexual stereotype.