Bleach — or Bleach03 or Bleachmobile — has the odd distinction of being one of my favorites bands whom I can’t listen to for very long.
The band’s music reaches a level of intensity requiring a very specific mindset to properly appreciate. In other words, that shit goes to a dark place, and I can’t go there often.
Bleach albums have historically clocked in at the half-hour mark — short by any other standard, but a perfect length for music as punishing as theirs. So the fact the band’s fourth album, Migi mo Hidari mo Shihaisuru wa Kyoo mo Niku wo Kui Yodare wo Tarasu, clocks in at 41 minutes feels more like eternity.
On the band’s previous self-titled album, the three girls from Okinawa wrote more melodic material, making it the most accessible work in their canon.
Migi mo … brings the band back to the obtuse writing of its first works, most notably Hadaka no Jyoou. Everything listeners have come to expect from Bleach is still here — break-neck tempo, explosive riffs, primal screaming, flashes of melody.
In the span of 1'44", "Head Cleaner" jumps from a slow swing intro to dense guitar noise to slightly funky drumming. The title track opens with Miya’s fierce howl and a wall of noise before the band kicks into the song proper.
Bleach is a hardcore to its roots, but the music branches off to a diverse set of influences. "Torch" starts off with a slow metal hook descended from Black Sabbath, while "Sketchbook" filters James Brown’s funk through a nightmarism prism.
Unlike the shorter, more focused punches of the previous albums, Migi mo … is a sprawling, glorious mess. The music heads off into numerous directions at once but manages to be held together by the ferocity of the band’s performance.
It is an exhausting listening experience.
For an album as long as Migi mo …, an extended forray into melody wouldn’t have been a bad idea. With as much going on in the music, it’s sometimes difficult to suss out where one track ends and another begins.
Migi mo … is Bleach’s most ambitious album, if only because there’s just a lot more music than usual. It’s not their most coherent album, and it may not even be their best. But Bleach is a compelling band, and it’s hard not to appreciate the intensity of their music.