Glasgow band Japan Review have been through a few incarnations in their short time, beginning as a solo project from Adam O’Sullivan, swelling into a live incarnation, then shrinking again but with touring multi-instrumentalist Genna Foden remaining as a permanent member. Speaking about their collaboration, O’Sullivan says:
“Genna was always more interested in electronic music but had never played an instrument before, we bought a cheap Microkorg and she took to it immediately, before expanding into more interesting hardware. Now she does all of the drum programming, writes and plays all the synth parts, all the while playing bass with her feet using midi pedals. I’ve always thought that the success of a band is more about assembling the right people, not the right musician. Chemistry and connection are so much more important than virtuosity or technical proficiency. If you get along and have a similar level of ambition and work ethic the rest will sort itself out.”
Now, the duo announce their debut album Kvetch Sounds, which will be out on October 29 through Reckless Yes. It’s a title which obviously references the Beach Boys classic, as O’Sullivan notes:
“Brian Wilson’s approach to ignoring tradition and just using his ears to guide him- in much the same way Kevin Shields did 25 years later – was definitely inspiring to me. The phrase Kvetch Sounds was written down in my notes as the album was being recorded and it stood out as a title.”
Today they share the album’s title track, and while it might not be as lush as a Beach Boys tune, or as dense as a My Bloody Valentine behemoth, there is still an impressive amount of depth and layering to “Kvetch Sounds” that invites you to dive in. Clattering programmed drums gallop enticingly throughout, while a fuzzy guitar sheen coasts atop, giving the whole affair a decidedly weightless feel. This dreaminess is accentuated by the synths, which hover in the midst of all this, sometimes playing an earworm melody, sometimes blurring into another cloud of colourful sound. It’s O’Sullivan’s voice that brings a sobering weight to the song, his demure words casting a melancholic hue onto the sounds all around. At times it’s reminiscent of The Strokes’ street-weary missives, but as his voice gets swallowed into the mists of the song, floating over a busy scene, disconnected from reality, “Kvetch Sounds” becomes something entirely of Japan Review’s own.
Watch the video for “Kvetch Sounds” below or listen on streaming platforms.