Japan Review Announce Debut Album Kvetch Sounds and Share New Single ‘Competition Winner’
Kvetch Sounds is due out October 29th via Reckless Yes
Glasgow-based noise-pop band Japan Review has announced that their debut album Kvetch Sounds will be released on October 29th via independent label, Reckless Yes. Having been through numerous incarnations in their relatively short existence, Japan Review is now a duo made up of Genna Foden and Adam O’Sullivan. On their debut album, the pair build upon the shoegaze foundations laid out on their 2019 EP, Juno. Kvetch Sounds sees Japan Review pushing sonically into more experimental territory, opting to embrace electronic instruments and celebrate the limitations of their more stripped back lineup. The result is a truly expansive debut that twists and turns through different tempos, and even genres, without ever losing its way.
The band started life as O’Sullivan’s bedroom recording project, but after releasing Japan Review’s first E.P, he approached Foden to play simple synth parts as a live member. “Genna was always more interested in electronic music but had never played an instrument before, we bought a cheap Microkorg and she took to it immediately, before expanding into more interesting hardware” explains O’Sullivan. “Now she does all of the drum programming, writes and plays all the synth parts, all the while playing bass with her feet using midi pedals,” he continues. “I’ve always thought that the success of a band is more about assembling the right people, not the right musicians,” says O’Sullivan, and Foden’s rapid elevation from live stop-gap to integral co-writer proved this long-held belief right. “Chemistry and connection are so much more important than virtuosity or technical proficiency. If you get along and have a similar level of ambition and work ethic the rest will sort itself out”.
On the band’s expansion into electronic experimentation, Foden says “I’ve always felt that electronic drums and arpeggiated synths were perfect companions to the glide guitars of shoegaze. It doesn’t feel like too many bands combine them – but it was an opportunity for us to explore two of our most influential genres.”
New single ‘Competition Winner’ was partly recorded using a cheap Casio VL-1 synth, the same model used by The Fall on Hex Enduction Hour, to deliver shrill jabs atop the song’s chorus. It’s production decisions like this that help to create the air of unhinged brilliance one finds so frequently across the album’s 8 tracks.
“Competition Winner” is one of the most fierce stand-out releases unveiled right now. This mighty soundscape swoops in with this fearless attitude and with such volume and fierce energy, sweeping through the vast ambiance and transporting the audience into the center of Japan Review‘s immersive world.
This intense exploration simply consumes your attention and submerges you deep amongst the complex layers of this instrumentation. A powerful blend of bold, crisp drum beats fight against the vital and immediately harsh fusion of sonically obliterating passages. This bed of brash tones, soaring synth notes, and the overall crushing textures that drive this ensemble showcase the sonic scale of this creation. Angular tonality mixing with this obnoxious volume whilst the lo-fi vocals steal focus with the personal and intimate touch amongst the chaos.
The new single will leave you in awe, built on this gargantuan, complex scale, Japan Review are ready to showcase their unlimited power on such a mammoth scale.
The record’s title, Kvetch Sounds, is a nod to the Beach Boys’ seminal album (‘kvetch’ being a Yiddish word for persistent complaining or grumbling). During the recording of the album, O’Sullivan was reading a lot about Pet Sounds and Smile. “Brian Wilson’s approach to ignoring tradition and just using his ears to guide him, in much the same way Kevin Shields did 25 years later, was definitely inspiring to me. The phrase Kvetch Sounds was written down in my notes as the album was being recorded and it stood out as a title,” he says. It’s these kinds of collected phrases and notes which form the basis of the album’s lyrical content. This technique of focusing more on where the melody wants to go than any particular lyrical narrative, famously used by Radiohead on Kid A and Bon Iver on For Emma, Forever Ago, allows the listener to make their own connections with the song.
O’Sullivan’s ethos around writing and recording music is similar to that of hometown hero Mark E Smith. “I think recording and putting out music is something bands shouldn’t overthink, but rather turn up, work hard and see what happens. If we would have recorded any of the songs on this record on another day they would be totally different,” he says. Kvetch Sounds is an expansive and exhilarating debut, bubbling with invention and ideas that leave the listener wondering where Japan Review will go from here. It seems possible that even they don’t know, but that’s all part of their charm.
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