5th Dimension

Weekend heroines prove their mettle with sophomore album

14 May, 2013 by

Momoiro Clover Z has been at the head of the idol sengoku jidai, a rising group that comes closest to threatening AKB48’s hegemonic hold over the proverbial Iron Throne of Japanese music. In April of 2013, the 5 girls from Stardust Promotions released their second album, titled 5th Dimension. The album reached the top of the Oricon charts, selling a total of nearly 200 thousand copies over three weeks.

The group had a website for their upcoming album before it launched, containing information about the album and its contents. Using crowdsourcing to play the game that was on the site, fans managed to reveal the tracklist, along with the composition and writing credits of each song.  On the hype front, the group couldn’t have done much better; fans around the world were activated to help with the unlocking.

Momoclo continues with an evolution of their theme from previous releases, but this time they took it a step further. Promotional material saw the girls in costumes that came out of science fiction, donning facemasks that would make all but the Hellraiser fans amongst us take a step back. While the radical look should earn some brownie points, one wonders why  it was done in the first place.

The album itself is a 13-track epic that covers more genres than you can shake a stick at. The members themselves have described it as an album with a flowing narrative, and one should listen to it as a concept album as a whole. Personally however, this might have been a lofty goal rather than something the group actually achieved, as there is no indication that it is a concept album. The tracks are individually great, but do not flow into each other as one might imagine in a concept album.

The album perhaps starts a little too ambitious. O Fortune from the Carmina Burana kicks off the album, setting an epic scene only to meet a letdown as Neo Stargate starts proper. It seems like a really awkward way to set the mood, and cheapens one of the most important points of an album. The album picks up steadily, however, and goes into a full gallop at Mugen no Ai. Accompanied by Marty Friedman and operatic backing vocals, Momoclo take their vocal range to the limit and end up with a song that befits their space opera image.

Mugen no Ai is the start of a stretch of solid songs almost unheard of in idol album history. 5 The Power is an organic hip-hop track, Roudou Sanka sounds like it came out of a blaxploitation soundtrack, and Get Down features a ridiculously catchy chorus with an oddly nostalgic sound. If you ever wanted to let your parents hear Momoiro Clover, that song would be your best bet.

Otome Sensou brings back the old Momoclo of yore, and it’s really the first time you hear the ‘idol’ in Momoiro Clover in the album. If you prefer Hashire to any of the songs before this, then Otome Sensou is for you. Tsuki to Gingami rounds up this crazy exploration of genres, and does it with style as the girls sing in harmony to a track that would remind many of Queen.

This is interrupted briefly by Birth Ø Birth, which in this writer’s opinion, is the weakest song of the bunch. Compared to the previous songs, the EDM influence in this song seems rather uninspired and unexciting. While the fact that the Momoiro Clover girls are not the best singers should be known to many, the vocals in this track sound especially bad; while some may appreciate the sentiment of not correcting it, it just sounds grating.

The ending of the album seems to be a homage to history. Jukyou Monogatari is an ode to Momoiro Clover; the excitement is infectious, even without watching them. Sora Tobu would not sound out of place in an old Morning Musume catalog. Saraba rounds up the metal quotient in the album, and Hai to Diamond ends the album on a softer note. It’s an uncharacteristic but poignant end to an album full of experimentation.

Momoiro Clover fans are so for many different reasons. Yet, no matter if you were a fan of their music, their personality or just the zaniness, everything comes through perfectly on 5th Dimension. If there’s only one idol album you should check out for this year, pick up 5th Dimension. You’ll realize why they’ve sold out concerts in 3 minutes and why their rise has been meteoric.

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Writer who also doubles as the photographer during event coverage. Mus' interests in Japan lie in the language, literature, popular culture and underground rock bands. Having an academic background in Japan, Mus is also particularly interested in the study of Nihonjinron.