Momoiro Clover Z has really been stepping up their game since their debut album Battle and Romance. Their album Momoclo★All Stars 2012 slipped under the radar, but so far I have to say it’s the best idol album of the year. That other group may be dominating with sheer numbers, but this year all eyes are on Momoiro Clover Z.
After unleashing the EPIC space adventure that is Moretsu Uchuu Koukyoukyoku: Dai Nana Gakushou “Mugen no Ai”, I wondered what other amazing things Momoiro Clover Z can do, and that is Momoclo★All Stars 2012. The album was only available for purchase through limited online stores and at their Yokohama Arena concerts earlier this year. It features seven new tracks, all just solo songs and unit songs.
If it’s one thing that puts Momoclo above other idol groups currently, it’s their music. Momoclo isn’t afraid of straying off the bubblegum idol pop sound, and this album shows how diverse of an idol group they can be. Leader Momota Kanako collaborates with The Wild Ones for Nagisa no Lalala. The Wild Ones is one of the bands that spearheaded the Japanese Group Sounds genre back in the 1960s, mixing rock and kayoukyoku music. Nagisa no Lalala is inside and out all around surf music, filled with rhythmic toms, twangy guitars, and that signature tremolo. Feels just like driving down a South California coast, but in Japan.
Tamai Shiori throws it back with a full on old school 80s idol pop song Namidame no Alice. We get the whole treatment with synths, popping bass lines, and funky rhythm guitar. By the time the chorus rolls in, you’re hit with that weird nostalgia feeling. Think Nakamori Akina and Matsuda Seiko. Sasaki Ayaka, what can I say about this one? Aari wa Hankouki! starts off innocent enough, but suddenly you’re greeted with a super annoying but hilarious chant of her own name. Then when you notice it, it’s too late; the song’s launched into complete eurodance mode and you’re somehow dancing. The song is all dance, but Aarin lays over a vocal track that is unmistakably idol; even including a monologue about how her mom doesn’t let her do things she wants. It’s pretty funny.
Momoiro Clover Z’s funky child Ariyasu Momoka gets the second collaboration. And rightly so, it’s with funk band Zainichi Funk. There was no doubt that Ariyasu has a certain groovy quality to her that fellow members don’t have. With Kyouiku, she is completely in her element; singing with attitude, rolling her R’s, and making adlibs that would make James Brown proud. Takagi Reni probably took the most surprising track Tsugaru Hantou Tappizaki (for me anyway), because it’s ENKA. Takagi is the oldest of the group, so somehow enka fits her personality. All enka kind of sounds the same to me, but between the dueling guitar and saxophone wankery, Reni sounds pretty good and the song is not bad at all.
We get two unit songs to close out the album, featuring Momota and Tamai forming Momotamai, and Ariyasu and Takagi forming Jimusho ni Osare Tai. Both tracks are produced by Maeyamada Kenichi, aka Hyadain, who has contributed to a majority of Momoclo’s success. Momotamai’s Single Bed wa Semai no desu is a funny mid-tempo bouncy pop track where basically the two argue about sharing bed space. Jimusho ni Osare Tai’s Jimusho ni Motto Osare Tai is the most familiar track on the album, akin to past productions from Hyadain, like Ikuzee! Kaitou Shoujou.
Momoclo★All Stars 2012 is diverse, funny, and awesome. The production value is high and they’ve thought out which girl fits what style. No one else can pull off such hilarious annoyance like Aarin. No one else can be as funky as Momoka. I already enjoy Momoiro Clover Z, but this album pulls me in that much more because it’s the music. I’m so deep into all this idol stuff nowadays that idol music has started to become stale. But Momoiro Clover Z is the one keeping things fresh; venturing into other genres for inspiration yet keeps their idol-ness intact. They have the balls to try stuff like this and they can back it up, cus damn these girls can put on a show. If you’re an idol fan, do yourself a favor and check out Momoiro Clover Z. This is their year to take.