Crisp and clean garage rock.
Spoiler alert: This might be the sleeper album of the year. I had some trepidation upon clicking on the opening track of the band's second album, 'Depend on Your Alter Ego' (or 'DOYA', for short) as I genuinely didn't know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to hear a blissed out BRMC with a more than subtle nod to that sort of American garage band, beating them in fact, at their own game.
Opening track 'At Eight in a Spanish Bar' is a mature jangle through the anatomy of a date with vocals that would have the likes of Semisonic crying into their lite beer. It's difficult to pick out any domestic influences throughout their album, yet without reading the PR for this sophomore effort, you'd never guess that this isn't from the Home of the Brave. It's been nearly four years since debut 'Songs For Lovesick Teenagers' came out and I wondered why, as if I was their record label, I'd be feeding the golden goose some serious laxatives.
The enthusiasm continues on second single 'Take it Out on Me' which drives through every rock trope going, sounding familiar but never derivative. There seems to be a freshness to this London based (via Belfast) band, although with more woo's than Ric Flair, they do get slightly annoying.
They do have a downside and that is a lack of a slow gear. On tracks where they try to slow the pace down, ('Meet You at the Station', 'Silver Nails') it doesn't quite work. This band is at their best when they're in full on party mode. They are a little over fond of that horrible high pass sound effect (think of those awful local radio promos) on Declan Harrington's vocals, being guilty of it on two different tracks but by and large, the vocals are clean, unoffensive and add more than they take away.
There's no fuss with Shibuya. Everything seems simple but unique, clean but unfamiliar and it's that sort of combination that makes them so appealing. The standout track is 'Gamla Stan', starting at a pedestrian tempo, the track would easily be in contention for an American college comedy theme. Named after Stockholm's Old Town, there's an implied intelligence to this band that doesn't need to be shouted. Although I will by telling you that Shibuya Crossing is the famous intersection in Tokyo that's featured on a thousand television adverts.
It all ends on a rolling, relaxed tip with 'Silver Nails' lumbering onto it's conclusion, rounding off a collection of songs that will undeservedly will fly under a lot of radars. Shibuya are going to surprise a lot of us with support slots, indie discos and festival appearances this summer. Wherever good times are had, as the stock infomercials say. If you want some of that snarky indie credibility, get this on your MP3 player. This is an American college band on their exchange year (in all but passport, it seems) and it's fair to say, they've got much to teach us. With that said, seeing them over the Atlantic would be a refreshing take on the genre and one which they've got the talent to reinvent.