never young beach‘s last album “YASHINOKI HOUSE” was one of last year’s biggest treats- a short, sweet and repeat-listening warranting album that blended all the best elements from 70s and 80s surf rock and pop together into one truly irresistible LP. Just over a year later- they have released their followup, the very pink covered ‘fam fam‘, and like it’s predecessor, it’s instantly enjoyable and fun.
Don’t let baby faced vocalist’s Abe Yuuma‘s appearance fool you- when he sings it’s surprisingly deep and soulful. It may not be amazing or make you wanna throw your panties at him, but his delivery here is perfectly fitting- never too corny, never too light. It really makes the tunes here all that more enjoyable and memorable- you don’t need to understand a lick of Japanese to get these tunes stuck in your head- like all the great catchy ear-worms in Jpop.
And let’s talk about how catchy these songs actually are- there isn’t a single song you won’t be humming the chorus of. Whether it be the fun opener “Pink Jungle House” or the amazing, unforgettable single “Akarui Mirai” which is simultaneously charming and will likely bring up memories of relationships of yore while listening (the music video accompanying further strengthens this). never young beach are always hooked on your pulse- and it’s hard to stop feeling at least just a little emotional when listening.
The production is bright and everything comes through clear as day. The classic surf rock hooks (done with such relaxed approach yet with amazing precision and timing) mixed with such amazing care is really a standout here- all the instrumental work has life breathing through it and listening to it through a good pair of headphones really gives the sense that the band are playing live in front of you.
Another thing to note is never young beach‘s unfathomable ability to make the best use of their time- the album feels truly whole despite its short, 32 minute running time. Surf rock by it’s very nature can be a genre that is unapproachable for an outsider, but never young beach manage to add just the right amount of giddy and light pop to the mix to make it stand out and hit home.
The album isn’t absolute perfection though. While the band haven’t changed their sound much at all since YASHINOKI HOUSE, it is apparent that they have opted to play a little less laid back and a little harder. This both works and doesn’t- depending on the track. Songs like ‘Motel‘ and the title track- while still gleefully happy and bright- don’t have the same ‘OMG SO GORGEOUS‘ effect that their previous works had- and ultimately makes the album a slightly lesser experience. Though this is truly nitpicking and certainly won’t be noticed by new listeners- it still is something that was a little jarring at first.
Overall though, with those minor problems aside, fam fam is a catchy, breezy listen that is guaranteed to be a massive pick-me-up kind of play. Those going into summer now, you have your jam, those still in the winter months, you can just close your eyes and imagine you’re there. never young beach show a great mastery of their craft and respect the material they’re so inspired by- and it shows through the loving, well crafted tunes on offer here.
8/10– A great summer jam album that will appeal to pretty much everyone that gives it the time.