Husking Bee

Four Color Problem

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Four Color Problem was Husking Bee's last attempt to score on the American market, and it's easy to see why their label dropped them. Not that generic punk can't be a great listen, of that the Japanese can't compete with Americans within the style, they can: see the brilliant Ellegarden on both counts. But to stand out in this crowded scene a band needs to fight for attention and be able to grab the audience, and here Husking Bee comes up short. It's not for lack of trying: the band even utilized two guitarists, with the additional six-strings supposedly allowing for a greater degree of songwriting freedom than classic Green Day or blink-182; besides, Husking Bee occasionally draw on other styles than pure pop-punk: there are some acoustic bits on the record, a hardcore break in the opener, and even some synths. But arrangement gimmicks can only enhance the song, not save it, and the tunes on Four Color Problem suffer for being unmemorable. Husking Bee sound as if they go by some sort of punk textbook, carefully ticking all the relevant boxes: fast-but-not-heavy guitars (check), a dutiful but simple rhythm section (check), a hoarse-sounding vocalist who has obviously heard a Bad Religion record or two (check), and those inevitable three chords (check). Some slower tempos are added at will; in fact, unlike many punk albums, Four Color Problem isn't all that speedy. What the textbooks don't teach, however, is how to make songs catchy, and, in this case, they aren't, barring what sounds like a couple of lucky missteps ("By Chance" in particular). The album's definitely pleasant and melodic -- most Japanese records are -- but listening to it from start to finish without zoning out is hardly possible.

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