Review Summary: Third time's the charm.
Although they’ve only been around since 2010, Tricot have handily established themselves as a frontrunner of the Japanese math rock scene. With sharp, jazzy, staccato riffs, intricate drum work, and melodic pop vocals, the Kyoto trio has an immediately recognizable palette and a charisma no other artist in the scene has been able to imitate. Their third album in just five years, the accordingly-titled 3
shows the band as confident as ever, bringing their signature sound overseas for the first time to American and British audiences via Topshelf and Big Scary Monsters. And while the group’s approach to songwriting hasn’t fundamentally changed, this collection of songs is easily their most consistent and impressive to date, a perfect introduction for the uninitiated and a refinement of everything that makes Tricot so damn enjoyable.
Look no further than the full-throttle opener “Tokyo Vampire Hotel” for proof of their musical prowess; no Tricot record has burst out of the gates this strong, featuring rapid time signature shifts, Ikkyu Nakajima’s commanding vocal presence, and an absolutely killer bridge. The energy doesn’t let up for “Wabi-Sabi” or “Yosoiki” either, all three opening tracks delivering with style on the technicality, melody, and fun you’ll find on the rest of the disc. With harmonic “oohs" and "aahs” seeping through every corner, the band evokes their compatriots Mass of the Fermenting Dregs more than ever before without sacrificing their own unique, bouncier identity. Elsewhere, the chirpy “Namu” begins with a sugary sing-along chant before evolving into something much more grandiose and airy, recalling the likes of European post-rock-tinged acts like And So I Watch You From Afar and Totorro. From calm, breezy tracks like “Sukima” to more brooding cuts like “Pork Ginger,” the band covers wider sonic ground with greater nuance than they did on past releases, and for the first time, they’ve also mastered the art of album construction, each song logically placed around the others for maximum impact.
On their debut T H E
, the band occasionally felt overwhelmed by their own writing, and their follow-up A N D
trekked too far back in the opposite direction, stripping some of the songs of the energy they needed to keep the album’s momentum rolling. 3
, on the other hand, is a calculated but emotive ride from start to finish. Every permanent member (as well as whoever they got to drum for these sessions, holy cow, props) knocks their performances out of the park, and with a delicate balance of intrepidness and tact, Tricot have never sounded more lively and engaging. The language barrier could be an issue for those who place a heavy emphasis on lyricism, but even if you think that might be an obstacle, Tricot will batter your eardrums with math rock bliss until you’re satisfied regardless. If you’ve never given a listen to one of the genre’s most promising acts, 3
is undoubtedly the place to start.