World's End Girlfriend

Seven Idiots

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World's End Girlfriend had built up enough of a reputation by the release of its 2011 album to ensure some major attention for Katsuhiko Maeda's latest work. Still, there's something about Seven Idiots that promises just a hair more than it delivers, resulting in an album that's admirable but hard to get front-to-back excited about. Part of it could simply be that a central idea to World's End Girlfriend, a turn-on-a-micron eclecticism that puts everything and anything together into a new sonic arrangement unbeholden to any one obvious approach, is less remarkable now than it might have been in earlier years. Though in individual songs it's easy to see why Maeda is regarded so highly in that vein: "Les Enfants Du Paradis" is a flat-out winner, feeling like an ever increasing fanfare with frenetic keyboards, romantic strings, swooning and chopping guitar, skittering beats, handclap percussion, and more interweaving into a triumphant conclusion that feels like it should conclude some movie somewhere, if not necessarily the French movie classic from which it derives its name. Other equally fine moments recur, including "Helter Skelter Cha-Cha-Cha," which pulls off a Laser tag/lounge frug/future nightclub fusion with flair and fun, down to its abbreviated vocal snippets, and the concluding "Unfinished Finale Shed," which strips away all the hyperactivity for a simple, gentle guitar-and-keyboards conclusion that works both in contrast to much of what's preceded it and on its own. But when so much of the album feels like a not-always successful recapitulation of those highlights -- and all told, everything stretches out for the full length of a CD -- the end result is a series of achievements that are unquestionably technically impressive, yet ultimately tiring when piled one on top of the other. Heard in small doses, though, it's a hell of a ride, and it's pretty hard to beat a great song title like "Teenage Ziggy," as well.

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