Japan Review – Competition Winner (Reckless Yes)

Japan Review – Competition Winner (Reckless Yes)

Scottish nugaze/darkwave duo Japan Review release new single Competition Winner and announce debut album Kvetch Sounds to be released on independent label Reckless Yes in autumn.

Japan ReviewArtist: Japan Review
Release: Competition Winner
Label: Reckless Yes
Released: 19 August 2021
Find it: Bandcamp | Spotify

In the dying days of a no-mark summer, you find yourself beginning the limited routines of a grey dawned-Monday morning. The future often seems impossible, and sparks of joy are now meant to come from what we discard more often than be found in what we collect. It’s before 7am and it’s already time for an escape.

Japan Review provide just that as you take flight with them over the 4 minutes of new single Competition Winner. Sat somewhere in nugaze / darkwave territory the pretension-free experimental pop has its electro-hum and sharp beats shatter the life-gloom into a thousand shards of brilliant colour. Escape is possible, it’s offered right here.

Let’s recap the story of the band as quick as we can so as not to repeat too heavily what has already been said elsewhere. Growing from the bedroom recording project Japan Review signed with Reckless Yes to release EP JUNO and single On Auto Now in 2019, around the same time Genna Foden joined, her first time playing an instrument. Since the pair have leaned in to the electronic side, deep experimentation, and proving true O’Sullivan’s belief ‘the success of a band is more about assembling the right people, not the right musicians.’

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.”

What comes out is a swirl of synths and hazy vocals working together to build bright melodies, anchored by Motorik-beats, ebbing and flowing between the organics of creativity and the control of electronic instrumentation. There is a playful and naive charm through Competition Winner, a catchiness you don’t see coming at you.

In the a subtle bob and weave of vocals around the occasionally unhinged synth stabs, and ahead of a debut album this single leads with intrigue, hidden gems of detail in the layers of sound, and blooms of melody which really do stay with you long after the last beat has sounded.

Competition Winner from Japan Review is out digitally now and debut album Kvetch Sounds is available for pre-order ahead of release on vinyl, CD and digital on 29 October 2021 via independent label Reckless Yes.

Find Japan Review: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Spotify | Bandcamp

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Disclosure: Sarah Lay is editor of Popoptica and co-founder of Reckless Yes, so has some involvement in the release of this record – but she really does only write about or work on music she loves.

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Sarah Lay

Sarah Lay is editor of Popoptica.
A long-standing music journalist she's also co-founder of independent record label Reckless Yes, an author of novels, and when not messing around with words and music, a digital strategist.
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