It seems to have become a routine for Never Young Beach to release an album in the summer. For this year’s beach entertainment BGM, again they have something new to offer. As the third album as well as their first major label debut album, A Good Time fortunately is NOT desperately attempting to sound different from previous works like a lot of failed transition from low-budget indie labels to major music management companies. While I am glad that Never Young Beach don’t seem to be bothered by the common struggle with turning more popular but at the same time doubting themselves, I have to admit I was expecting a little more than what this album has delivered.
My first impression after the first listen was “I definitely still love their guitar and the vibe is just great with no doubt, but they gotta do something to get their songwriting skills back”. I hardly heard any catchy chorus like what they threw around in fam fam. It’s the kind of music that you may put the whole record on loop for a party and everyone would enjoy, but no one remembers a song afterwards. Every song sounds all right. No one stands out.
The opening song “Natsunodokidoki” is released last year thus carries on the festive style from the previous album. The straight-forward lyrics “no matter after 100 years or 1000 years, the excite heartbeat for summer will never end” together with the lighthearted melodies has made the song a great intro for the album and a standard summer hit. “Nankasa” and “Kimochiikazegafuiandesu” although are relatively weak in their hooks, demonstrate brilliant guitar lines and rhythms. As you can easily tell from their previous works, guitar and rhythm are the two very things that this band master. In this album however, the guitar phrases are not as funky by comparison.
Watch the band play “Natsunodokidoki” @OUR FAVORITE THINGS last year
Into the mid album it starts feeling very loose, maybe too loose. “Shiroihikari” might serve better as an ending ballad than “Umibenomachie”. I mean, at least the dreamlike-slightly-distorted voice production has made it sounds like one, while the latter is simply too plain. “Sanpobiyorinifutongapatapatato (band Ver.)” is an old song that originally comes from the first album in a tambourine version. This remix reminds me of the DYGL song “Thousand Miles Away” but this time, I will have to go with the original version because of the stereoscopic vision it delivers with those well-bedded sound waves.
You know the moment when your mind has been wandering and ignoring the music you’re playing then there’s one song that suddenly draws you back? “Surely” is the song. As the lead single, it freshens your sense of hearing with riffs to the point and beats full of buzz. And again, I wish Never Young could have picked something else over the current ending tune which is diluting the vibrant tension “Surely” has built.
Never Young Beach has always been one of my top picks from today’s Japanese indie pop. In the Yashinoki House era they were still experimenting – It was obvious that they put pretty much a little bit of everything in that album – And eventually made it somewhat choppy, but rather compelling. Meanwhile fam fam no need to say, is an epoch-making album that breaks the spell of “Cool bands only sing in English” in nowadays Japanese avant-garde indie scene. I would sing along with the whole album while dancing awkwardly in my seat driving down the I-95 highway when no one is looking. It was great song-writing, and I do believe one day they can resume that excellence in a snap of fingers.
Watch their most played music video from last year starred by Komatsu Nana below:
If you ask me whether I have any suggestions for their next summer record? You know what, I just hope they can put more bird tweets like what they did in the first two records. I don’t know why they’ve stopped doing so but, I really like birds.
Never Young Beach’s new Album A Good Time can be purchased through iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Play Music and streamed on Apple Music, Bandcamp and Spotify.
4. Sundays Best
6. Sanpobiyorinifutongapatapatato (Band Ver.)
7. City Lights
Picture source: Band Twitter