Review Summary: Like riding in a wild car careening through the mountains at night, Sigure's third full album is an exhilarating journey filled with twists and turns.
It's always a disconcerting experience when a well-regarded young indie rock band makes the transition to a major label. We've all seen it happen: an artist with tremendous creative potential jumps at the chance to gain millions of fans, not to mention money, and their songcraft is strangled in an attempt to make more accessible music. Some, like Sonic Youth and Thrice, have done quite well under major labels, while other bands have been less fortunate.
Any fan of Japanese indie luminaries Ling Tosite Sigure might have met the band's decision to join Sony Music with similar trepidation. Fortunately, any concerns that the trio's high-octane rock onslaught would be diluted by major-label meddling were subsequently blown away by Telecastic Fake Show, the band's first single under the new label. Pounding the listener with a blazing power rock assault before easing into the driving verse, it's immediately clear that high-strung guitarist/vocalist Toru Kitajima is still in firm control of his band as the group twists and swerves around their chaotic songcraft.
If the single, the first from 2009's just A moment, was a deliberate attempt to show the band's perpetually restless spirit, the rest of the album shows Kitajima and his bandmates branching out beyond their post-hardcore roots to tackle a wider range of emotions than any of their previous albums. Opening track Hakaiyou no Yume delivers the seamless fusion of furious rock and calmer passages in an unpredictable manner, while Hysteric Phase Show provides a more straightforward tune driven by Miyoko's fuzzy bass tones.
Tremolo+A is proof that despite maintaining a consistent and recognizable sound, the band is not constrained by their distinctive tastes. It's Sigure's first track based entirely around acoustic guitar, and offers strong melodies as Miyoko Nakamura's bass and Pierre Nakano's drums propel the song's rhythm section. JPOP Xfile conceals its progressive underpinnings beneath a surprisingly radio-friendly veneer, while A 7days Wonder is driven by a nearly danceable beat.
A over die is the group's first all-instrumental song, and while a good tune in its own right it is somewhat disappointing that the band doesn't push themselves to their instrumental limits. After the fury of Telecastic Fake Show, seacret cm gives the band room to relax around some softer singing and atmospheric guitar. Moment a rhythm slows down further to a more introspective and reflective tune that evokes post-rock and TK's surprisingly good quiet singing before erupting into a howling guitar solo. The final track, mib126, is not only the best on the album but one of the band's finest songs overall, displaying a mastery of their distinctive style as it builds from a nervous tension toward its panic-attack climax. “In the world you bastards made!” TK screams before an astonishing, otherworldly transition that fires the song into high gear for a powerful ending.
Although just A moment doesn't stray too far from the band's established style, it covers more ground than any of their previous releases and shows that there's still a lot of talent in them. Joining a major label has, if anything, made them even more determined to craft distinctive-sounding hard rock. just A moment isn't quite as powerful as Inspiration Is Dead, but the record shows a group of meticulous, precise musicians crafting a world of sound that's all their own – and once they've drawn you in, you won't want to leave.