A "Quick" Review of Battle and Romance

Very recently, my personal favorite idol group, Momoiro Clover Z released their first ever album entitled “Battle and Romance.” One thing that I immediately found interesting was that instead of promoting the singles that came right before this (Z Densetsu ~Owarinaki Kakumei and D’ no Junjou) they chose to promote the album instead (and by ‘they’ I mean the staff, people at the label, etc; MomoClo had nothing to do with it). In Japan, most artists focus on single sales, especially idols. The music industry really seems to do better with singles rather than with albums, and singles tend to sell much much better.

However, Momoiro Clover sold just under 10,000 copies for their first day, and by the second day (where they sold over 5000 copies) they outsold the overall sales of the previous two Morning Musume albums. So even though MomoClo might not be selling as well on the singles, I’m thinking that this album may be a sign that MomoClo is getting to be a bigger and bigger group to reckon with.

Methinks they are spoofing this Beatles album cover? Maybe? idk. 
Anyways, this is a review of the full album. I’ve heard the single songs and I’ve heard all the solo songs, but this is actually my first time with the album-original songs.
1. Z Densetsu ~Owarinaki Kakumei~
Number one thing I’ve learned from this song: that in Japan they say “Zed” instead of “Zee.” Like in Canada. So, I guess Momoiro Clover agrees with Canadians?
I love this song a lot. I’ve heard it described by a fellow MomoClo loving fan as the Ikuze! Kaitou Shoujo of newer Momoiro Clover Z fans, and I think this is a fair assessment. Both introduce all the girls in a fun, light-hearted song. I’d personally say that I prefer Ikuze, but maybe that’s just me. But I could definitely see myself watching the PV and falling for this group, like what happened for me when Ikuze Kaitou Shoujo first came out. 
The “BLUE” when they go over the colors makes me happy, because the group’s obviously recognizing that Akarin was there, but it also makes the absence even more noticeable. 
The only thing that I could potentially say about this is that occasionally the guy’s voice gets a bit old, and I don’t necessarily need it. I get what they’re trying to do, that it’s all a spoof of the sentai genre, but it’s a bit annoying. It’s not enough man voice to ruin the song for me (like how Tsunku ruined Uchouten Love, which I would have adored, with his wahHOO every two seconds), but I’d have liked less of it. 4.5/5

2. CONTRADICTION
The song starts off kind of electronic sounding, but then transitions to being kind of an epic song with that electronic/dance music type feel. I find that I like the chorus a lot better than I like the verses; sometimes it feels like the drone of the music in the background in the verses doesn’t really fit that well with the melody that the girls are singing. I like the lead up to the chorus and the chorus much better. Like I’ve said, this is the first time I’ve heard this song, and so I haven’t seen any performances (if they’re out there yet; I have been saving this album up). However, I can definitely see this as being something with a pretty epic performance, given MomoClo’s energy.
I like the song; however, sometimes I’m a bit put off with the instrumental. Maybe it’s one of those songs where those parts will grow on me (I didn’t like Pinky Jones all that much after the first listen), but this seems like the type of song that I’ll have on my iPod but won’t be as heavily listened to as the others. 3/5

3. Mirai Bowl
I love love love this song and love the PV. Before I listened to this album I had no idea that they were going to rerecord  the old single songs. I’m honestly really torn about this. On the one hand, I miss Akari and it kind of feels like they’re sort of trying to erase her existence. On the other hand, though, they are really trying to reinvent themselves with the advent of Momoiro Clover Z, which feels like they’re really respecting Akari; saying that they’re not the same group without her, and acknowledging her in Z Densetsu. 
I love this song wholeheartedly, so this rerecorded version is kind of interesting to me. The biggest change is giving Akari’s rap part to Ayaka, which does change the tone of the rap somewhat. It’s giving the serious sounding rap to the youngest/girliest member who ended up doing it well, though changing the tone of the rap. That being said, the rest of the song is silly enough that it doesn’t really matter if the rap sounds a bit silly. I’m honestly thrilled that Ayaka got the part, because since I got into Momoiro Clover I’ve been convinced that Ayaka is Ishikawa Rika part two, so she really does excel in some of those speaking parts.
The song overall isn’t any better or worse without Akari; it’s just different. I can see myself choosing to listen to both versions pretty freely. And since I love this song, it definitely deserves: 5/5.

4. Wani to Shampoo 
Apparently this is the opening to some anime, as well as being entitled “Crocodile and Shampoo.” I love this title so much, so I’m very very hopeful before I even listen.
Listening to it right now, I can definitely hear how this would be a great anime opening. I love whenever they shout things. YABAI!! QUESTION!!
For some reason I’m having trouble pinning down what type of song this is; it’s a bit weird mixed with being a bit serious sounding. Yet I know that they’re singing about “owaranai Shukudai” so they’re singing about unfinished homework. That’s definitely ‘yabai.’ 
Also, there’s the part before the chorus where they’re all asked questions. The funniest is one of the English ones: Q: Where do you live now? Ayaka: Yes I do!
I think that even though it sounds like kind of a serious song it has a lot of silliness to it, which makes it a perfect MomoClo song. After one listen I have it stuck in my head, which shows the power of this type of song. Though for some reason I keep thinking it sounds like some song but I can’t pinpoint what song it sounds like! Still, it’s 5/5. Instant classic for MomoClo.
5. Pinky Jones
Chappa Chappa! People need to go around saying “Chappa Chappa” more and more. 
I love the pseudo-Indian feel of the song, with what sounds like a sitar? I think it’s supposed to be a sitar, if it really isn’t. And then there are what sound like bagpipes later in the instrumental. This is honestly what I love about Momoiro Clover’s music writing team; only MomoClo would have a JPop song with sitars and bagpipes. 
I actually notice Akari’s absence more in this song than I did in Mirai Bowl, which is a bit odd considering she had a much bigger presence in the PV of Mirai Bowl. It’s mixed just fine, but it just sounds a little weird. However, I have to say that they’ve been making great choices in allotting Akari’s lines among the rest of the group. The fact that Akari’s mystical sounding solo was given to Reni was a particularly great choice, since her character in the PV was supposed to be some sort of fortune teller, which was reprised in both Mirai Bowl and Z Densetsu (“Give me chappa chappa!!”). I personally liked that Ayaka got Akari’s line when they all sing with their names; she sounded particularly nice. 
Again, I like both versions a ton. This song is perfectly weird and eccentric for Momoiro Clover. 5/5

6. Kimi no Ato
Here’s the thing with me and ballads. I love a ballad with a really amazing voice, which is why some of the later albums of Matsuura Aya are some of my favorites. However, a lot of the times idol ballads can get really boring really fast, and if the vocals are subpar then I’ll probably not listen to the song very much. They can be done really well; I love the choir-style of AKB48’s Sakura no Shiori. However, as a whole, if the songs are equally well-written, I’ll normally choose an energetic idol song over a ballad.
That being said, the instrumental is very pretty and since Kanako’s voice at the beginning was really pretty, I had really high hopes going into it. And they were met; the girls all sound very pretty, and the instrumental is really good. It’s actually a bit more of a power ballad, with the instrumental and sound building up from the initial, beautiful piano. It’s definitely not MomoClo’s usual music, which makes it really special to listen to. It’s not really my thing, and I doubt I’ll be listening to this as much as I listen to the upbeat songs of the album, such as Wani to Shampoo. However, I really really enjoy it. It’s enjoyable, and exceeded my expectations, when I heard there was a Momoiro Clover Z ballad. 4/5

7. D’ no Junjou

This song is flawless. The way they build up tension throughout, the verses and go all out in the choruses, and the parts with “DASH DASH DASH DASH DASH” always give me shivers. It’s energetic, intense and amazing. The way they perform it in the PV is just 100% amazing.
I honestly have nothing more to say. A perfect song. 5/5

8. Ame no Tachikara wo

Another song with Indian influence; I think this one s a lot more direct than Pinky Jones, but I don’t listen to Indian music so I could be wrong on that count. The singing reminds me a tiny bit of traditional Japanese music, so that could be a bit more of what they’re trying to go for. Still, this song also has a lot of rock and pop influences, like the rest of Momoiro Clover Z’s music, and the song changes a lot between verses and the chorus. The chorus transitions to being more of a regular popular song. It’s fine, but nothing really extraordinary, especially since fans of MomoClo will be used to the concept of the girls switching styles a lot.
I like the song more during the verses than during the chorus. There’s nothing wrong with the song, but it doesn’t grab me the way that the other songs do. After a couple of listens none of the song really stuck with me, unlike some of the other songs on this album (Wani to Shampoo won’t let my brain alone). 3/5

9. Orange Note
We finally have the flawless Orange Note on recording! For people who don’t really follow MomoClo, Orange Note is one of the songs that has been with Momoiro Clover from the beginning, and so fans are super excited to have this on recording. The one thing that has changed is that now it’s Shiori doing the rap and not Akari, and while I love Akari’s original I have to say that Shiori did a really great job.
This is a great, high energy, fun song. When I first heard it last year I knew that it was a great song, and it still is. It’s stood the test of time, and I’m forever glad that it’s on the album. 5/5
10.  Ikuze! Kaitou Shoujo
OK, Pinky Jones was weird without Akari, but this is weirder. In the shout at the beginning, it goes from “RENI KANAKO AKARI SHIORI AYAKA MOMOKA” (which is btw how I learned all the members’ names originally) to “RENI KANAKOOOO SHIORI AYAKA MOMOKA” which is kind of awkward, but I don’t know how they’d be able to get past. Also, the part where they all count is a tiny bit awkward. 
Despite some awkwardness in how they did this song, they did a pretty solid job of covering Akari in this song. This is THE classic Momoiro Clover song in my opinion, so I’m glad they did it. However, the awkwardness, and Momoka’s unnecessary vocalizations at the end (seriously, WHY did they add that?) make the original the one I’m going to listen to. It’s a fantastic song, but it really is incomplete without Akari. 4.5/5

11. Stardust Serenade
References to their agency, FTW. 
This is kind of a lighter easy listening song; for some reason I keep getting a retro feel from it? Parts of it, for some reason (I have no idea why) remind me of The Partridge Family, which not something I’d ever really peg on JPop. Or Neil Diamond. Basically stuff that my mom plays in the car and listens to a lot. 
It’s a pretty easy song to like, and I really do appreciate some of the orchestral stuff that goes on in the instrumental. Orchestra instruments in rock music is my #1 weakness, as two of my favorite bands are the Electric Light Orchestra (or ELO as they’re better known) and The Last Shadow Puppets. 
All the girls sound really good in this song and they really fit it. I like it! 4/5

12. Kono Uta
I’ve heard this song before, actually, looking up stuff on Momoiro Clover. It never really stuck with me, but I think at that point I was too excited for Z Densetsu that I listened to that much more than I listened to this. I don’t know why, but this is a sweet-hearted, up beat song. It has kind of an epic feel, and it kind of sounds like it should be on the soundtrack to something? 
I really like this song, though, and can’t think of much else to say. It kind of reminds me of the feel of Hashire, and I think is that type of song for the group. A reprieve from the weirdness to make something very pretty. 5/5

13. MomoClo no Nippon Manzai!
This song is weird and wonderful; this is kind of like a modern Mini Moni, because they’re singing about various points in Japan, and prefectures. When they’re singing about prefectures I THINK (with my limited Japanese knowledge) they all sing extended things about their home prefecture? I know Ayaka sings about Kanagawa, which is her home prefecture. The style of the song changes to everything throughout the song, giving all of members opportunities to show their personality. Weird parts, slow parts, it’s all just fantastic. I happen to love really strange songs, which is part of why Momoiro Clover maintains its position as my favorite idol group.  
But yeah, this is like what would happen if Mini Moni and Momoiro Clover had a collaboration, which is what makes it amazing. 5/5

BONUS CD

1. Taiyou to Ekubo- Kanako
This really has kind of a classic idol feel to it; it’s upbeat and happy and just sunny. I’ve loved it a lot since I first heard it and that hasn’t changed. Kanako sounds great and it’s just a fun song that’s easy to listen to. 
2. Fall Into Me – Akari
It’s kind of interesting that Akari got recorded over in the single songs on the album, but she got her solo song on the album. I’m not complaining, because this song really fits her, with the rock style and with all the rapping. This is really her forte, not so much the cutesy idol pop that MomoClo does. I miss her, and if she got to do stuff like this in the future I’d be really happy. 
3. …Ai Desu Ka? -Shiori
For some reason this title keeps reminding me of Kago Ai’s fanclub solo song, “Renai tte Nani”. Shiori, don’t turn out like Kago did, please.
This is another classic idol type song. I find the song kind of boring, and the fact that while I ADORE Shiori she’s not my favorite member doesn’t really help. The song’s cute, Shiori’s cute, and there’s nothing offensively bad about the song, but of the entire album this is probably the song that stands out least. 
4. Datte A~rin Da Mon!- Ayaka
I find it amusing that all the other members got fairly normal songs, and my favorite gets the weird song. It’s actually perfect for Ayaka, though; she’s the youngest member and is really cutesy, especially since she’s been in show business since she was 10 (on Oha Star). However, the sexy sounding interludes fit her really well, because even though she often does the cutesy image she also can be sexy.
Anyways, if you don’t like cutesy songs, strange songs or Ayaka, you’ll hate this song. If you love all those things, you’ll adore this song. 
5. Arigatou no Present- Momoka
Of all the members who could get a ballad as their solo song, Momoka is definitely the right choice. She has arguably the best singing voice, so it really fits her. The solo song doesn’t stand out to me that much, but ballads aren’t really my thing, like I’ve explained. It’s a nice, pretty song, that Momoka sings with a lot of heart. Good job, Momoka!
6. Koi wa Abare Ondekoza- Reni
Reni singing enka? I guess weirder things have happened.
While I’ve never really thought about it before, Reni’s voice sounds really good in this song. The opening drums/music reminds me of Phoenix Wright. If you’ve played the games with the sound on, you should know why. Anyways, Reni doing enka is a bit of a surprise, but she pulls it off really well!
Overall, this was a great album, with a lot of strengths. This definitely could go up to being one of my favorite idol albums ever, which is saying something. Momoiro Clover Z has been doing a great job of things so far, and in my opinion they totally deserve the fame they’ve been getting.

2 thoughts on “A "Quick" Review of Battle and Romance

  1. I think "Wani to Shampoo" is less 'serious' and more… frantic? It's certainly all silly (just look at the title of the song). It captures the frantic nature of leaving all your summer homework for the last night.

    Reni's solo live was pretty awesome. Wait for the DVD~

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