OK, damn, give me a second to compose my thoughts here. This one’s insane.
Legendary Vocalist and guitarist Yuu‘s (Go!Go!7188, Chirinuruwowaka) latest project YAYYAY is not playing around. This is the most explosive Japanese art pop drop in years. Their sound is rapturous. It’s instantly inviting and yet challenging, and will have the 2000s kids absolutely squealing with joy. For some, this will be the release they’ve been waiting for since, well, let’s just say it- Karuki Zamen Kuri no Hana (and yes, I am am well aware that this is the absolute most blatantly obvious comparison). The term transcendental is thrown around a lot in the music scene, but here, it applies without question. This is transcendental art pop.
It’s opening track “Devadatta” (named after the Buddhist monk and cousin of the Buddha who reformed the Sangha) declares, like the title of the release “I’m Here“. It truly sounds like it could have come right out of the creative peaks of 2003/4 in Japanese pop, a rock song at its heart, but deliriously playful and circus-like in presentation (those strings!).
There’s moments on the record that create a deep sense of dread, like the instrumental interlude “OJO”, that take a turn and dissipate into one of the most romantic tracks in recent memory, the gorgeous “Bitter&Sweet“, a glitchy ballad that has one of the most impressive displays of chord progression in recent memory. In the end though, there isn’t a single track that doesn’t need to be here, it’s all absolutely essential listening for fans of the genre.
Produced by Shizuka Kanata (arranger, keys, programming), everything is so precise; layers upon layers of instruments and samples mesh and meld, a perfect amalgamation of digital and classic sounds from all over the world. Regardless of it’s lofty aspirations, the quartet (it must be note how amazing such a massive a sound this album has coming from only four people) never forget the most vital part of making all of this work- catchy melodies to balance out the whole thing. It’s addictive as hell and Yuu’s vocals have always been amazing and she doesn’t sound like she’s aged a day since her initial run in Go!Go!7188.
All these elements, genre-fusion and that artistic spirit all end up being something truly wonderful, and rekindle the flames of one of the most adventurous eras Japanese Rock. It’s time to get excited and welcome YAYYAY to the list of great Japanese acts. Now we can only await what a full album will bring!