So. Those of you who listen to me talk about Touhou music are probably well-aware of the love/hate relationship I have with IOSYS, arguably the largest (and certainly one of the most productive) Touhou dojin-circles out there. I have a small number of songs I absolutely adore by them, a large number I hate, and then a few outliers that I either hate lyrically but love musically (Convictor Yamaxanadu) or hate altogether but CAN'T GET OUT OF MY HEAD (Marisa etc. etc Precious Thing, FOE).
Well, I snagged a few albums in order to get some songs I do like (Convictor Yamaxanadu, Border of Death) and in listening to the other songs on said albums, I've come to a realization about why.
I love IOSYS when they're being serious. Technically, they're superb; they've got a good grasp of musical theory, how to properly 'construct' a song. A few of the vocalists they use have fantastic voices - 3L, the vocalist for Border of Death, stands as the shining example of them knowing exactly how to pick a voice to suit a song.
The problem is, IOSYS isn't serious any more. Their niche has been found, and it's in joke-vocals. Marisa Stole The Precious Thing was, thanks to its disgustingly earwormy qualities, was their first break-out hit; and after that, more and more of their songs/lyrics became jokey and less pleasant. The fact that their MAIN vocalist, miko, is like a chipmunk on acid, just adds to that factor.
I'm never quite sure if IOSYS makes the characterizations and the rest of the fandom picks up on it, or the other way around - I'm pretty sure Boob Envy!Shikieiki was around before Convictor Yamaxanadu, but I have no way of knowing if Marisa Stole etc. was the origin of Failice. It sure SEEMS that way, though, considering the song is basically one giant handbook on How To Poorly Bastardize Alice Margatroid, with a bonus chapter on Oontz Oontz.
That said, Touhou Otome Bayashi, their second album (aka the album that introduced Marisa/Thing) is really an example of how damn good they are. Out of four vocal tracks, they hit a 50/50 ratio (Marisa Stole is an obvious case of suck, and Keine's Drawing Song is probably the most painful vocals I've ever heard on a Plain Asia mix ever, but Border of Death is fantastic and Special Ability to Sneak Out etc. actually sounds like it would fit in nicely with a Katamari soundtrack, to its benefit) but then you realize that it's a twelve-track album - there's seven and a half tracks there (Mainly to Manipulate The Floor has typical techno vocals that don't really have any focus, think Daft Punkish) that show off their strengths with nonvocal stuff.
If you're the type to go for Touhou albums, give it a try sometime; it's a very hit-and-miss album, but the hits more than make up for the misses. Just don't expect later IOSYS albums to be your thing unless you really like Marisa Stole The Precious Thing.