Controlled chaos

If one word could be chosen to describe Kokeshi Doll, it would be “sinister”.

The strangled singing of vocalist Okuyama Naomi sounds like a demon alien could pop out of her chest at any moment.

And there’s a wild abandon to the band’s music that sounds like how evil would feel. (Or so I imagine.)

But Kokeshi Doll isn’t a one-note wonder.

The all-women trio sticks to a basic sound — overdubs are at a minimum on the band’s second mini album Pill Korui — but they manage to cover a lot of ground doing so.

“Suicide Boogie” has the swagger of every Thee Michelle Gun Elephant song — all one of them. “Renchi no Uta” starts with an eerie, minimal intro, then launches into a song that seamlessly alternates between garage rock and hardcore.

“MESU Gyakugo” is just a wall of screaming noise, while “Shiroi Hako” is what Rivers Cuomo would write if he were a pissed-off Japanese girl.

The rest of the time, the band’s songs wander and stumble, start up and break down. But seldom does any of it sound random.

If anything, tracks such as “Mikeneko no Te” and “Heavy” sound like chaos on the surface but reveal a very purposeful sense of structure. Okuyama may be tearing her voice out, but she’s not being arbitrary about it.

It’s a neat trick, and one for which Kokeshi Doll deserves credit.

Pill Korui could have sunk under too much anarchy, but the women of Kokeshi Doll are smart enough to keep a reign on things.