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Friday, Feb. 1, 2008



Apartment "Sparkle Bicycle"

Not so much a band as the solo work of multi-instrumentalist Tatsuya Namai, Apartment is a bedroom-pop act with a DIY ethos. With its cheap-sounding production and instruments constantly on the brink of going out of tune, "Sparkle Bicycle" harks back to 1980s U.K. and U.S. "cassette culture" — think of indie-pop bands such as The Pastels.

The main musical influences, though, go back further to The Beatles and The Zombies. Throughout "Sparkle Bicycle" — Apartment's third album — the retro elements tread a thin line between influence and outright pastiche. "When I See That Girl of Mine" is a cheerful and infectiously catchy blast of early Manfred Mann-style British Invasion pop and in "Tone Sunset" the resemblance of Namai's voice to that of John Lennon is evident, particularly against the heavily Beatles-influenced musical backdrop.

Elsewhere, "Because Your Life" and "I Don't Want Call Your Name" exhibit a Kinks-ish mod-pop sound, whereas gently meandering instrumental tracks like "Her Mod Style" and "Small Light" show that Apartment is equally at home with the kind of lo-fi psychedelia that isn't so tightly tied down to the sounds of the '60s.

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