Review Summary: Nintendo obsessed Japanese musicians make music to match their wardrobe.
Current trends in music reveal that nostalgia is clearly one of the corner stones of the decaying market. The Strokes and Killers revived a sound almost two decades old, Bruce Springsteen recently had a number one record with a sound that was suppose to return to his “Born to Run” days, etcetera, etcetera. Even in the underground music community this notion holds some weight. Groups like the Advantage and Horse the band have been exploiting childhood memories of the old 8 and 16-bit entertainment systems. Video games are obviously a huge part of the childhood of anyone conceived in the past thirty years. Thus, when a band like YMCK bases their concept of music around 8-bit arrangements it automatically makes a minor cult of extensive old school video game fans very interested. Call it a gimmick, but YMCK have certainly proven that they can create a series of excellent songs simply with 8-bit programming and some cute Japanese girl vocals.
YMCK’s sound can basically be described as hyper cute. Sure, there is a very intense eye kept on making the arrangements on “Family Genesis” interesting, complex, and technically inspiring but that is also clearly a secondary effect to making some beautifully catchy pop songs. Songs like ‘Sabita Tobari No Dai 8 Tengoku’ and ‘Starlight’ run through impressive runs of seemingly random bleeps and bloops while Midori Kurihara embraces the shades of neon pink around her with a child-like breathy approach to singing. All of the songs on “Family Genesis” basically exploit the same type of approach although there are a couple of rather depressing instrumental tracks, ‘Izukata no Fue’ being an excellent example. The feeling of “Family Genesis” while cute does retain a melancholy feel just because of how sparse the musical arrangements are. Think of the use of My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Sometimes’ in “Lost in Translation”, a beautiful scene yet set to densely futuristic and depressing music.
Complaints can be thrown at the length of the record. At thirty minutes this probably would’ve been a favorite of ’08, but at almost an hour hearing 8-bit Japanese pop songs get kind of tiring. Still, YMCK should be rewarded for rising above being a Nintendo based gimmick and using odd techniques to create some very original and atmospheric music. “Family Genesis” is a fabulous pop album that anyone with a pension for highly melodic music should enjoy for at least some time.