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Thursday, May 17, 2012
Special to The Japan Times
Tokyo rock trio Andymori formed in the fall of 2007. The following summer — before the group had released any music — it earned an invite to perform at the Fuji Rock Festival. In 2009, Andymori issued its eponymous debut and appeared at Summer Sonic. Continuing to build upon its initial successes, the band has since played numerous concerts across the country and has also gigged in Canada and South Korea.
Its fourth full-length, "Hikari" ("Light"), opens with the radio-friendly, pop-rock cut "Bass Man." Guitarist Sohei Oyamada's polished, melodic vocals and catchy bits of whistling are the main focus of the song and play out over simple, toe-tapping rhythms. Revisiting the youthful exuberance they showcased on excellent early singles like "Follow Me" and "Everything is My Guitar" from its first album, the title track and "San Punkan" ("For Three Minutes") are two of the edgier offerings on "Hikari." The former starts as a fast-paced piece of alternative rock and doesn't let up during its nearly three-minute running time. The latter gains steam as Oyamada's singing switches from crooning to ragged yelps. Both should have little difficulty making crowds bop around during Andymori's summer shows.
The act is at its best on "Club Night." The number begins (and ends) with only the steady pounding of Kenji Okayama's bass drum, creating a sound akin to a stripped-down dance club beat. Horns are used throughout the upbeat song and add a great orchestral pop feel. Playful handclaps and plenty of group "la la la" singing make the lively folk of "Aishite Yamanai Ongaku wo" ("Can't Stop Loving Music") also emerge as one of the stronger tracks on "Hikari."
Although Andymori isn't breaking any new ground in the realms of Japanese alternative and pop-rock, "Hikari" is another solid disc from the group. And while 2011's "Kakumei" peaked at No. 12 on the Oricon album charts, last week "Hikari" debuted at the No. 8 spot so Andymori is obviously doing something right.
Andymori plays Wakasu Park in Tokyo on May 27 as part of Rocks Tokyo (ticket prices vary) and at Tarukawa Wharf, Ishikari Bay New Port in Hokkaido on Aug. 10 as part of the Rising Sun Rock Festival (ticket prices vary). For more information, visit www.andymori.com.