Syrup16g
Copy


4.0
excellent

Review

by JohnnyoftheWell CONTRIBUTOR (95 Reviews)
December 30th, 2018 | 6 replies


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Seminal Japanese emo debut sounds as tight as ever seventeen years on

Syrup16g are as good an example as any of how distinct the Japanese and international music circuits can be. Virtually absent from Western media or online discussion beyond certain specifically Japanophile circles, the band formed in the early/mid 90s but took until 2001 to release their debut, Copy, which quickly blew up within their home country, scoring a major label contract that paved the way for a string of follow-up releases and a career still going strong today. From what I gather, the early 00s Japanese indie scene was much more dominated by post-hardcore (and later, math rock) influences than its Western counterpart*, and in popularising their somewhat less intense alternative/emo sound, syrup16g were probably responsible for a certain mellowing in the popular rock scene. Or perhaps not - in any case, they certainly made their mark where it counted even if this never translated into worldwide exposure.

Listening in 2018, the sound here is exactly what you’d expect from an emo/alt-rock album released at the start of the century, mostly in the best way possible. The band’s three-piece line up lends itself to basic rock instrumentation, draped in minor thirds and power chords like they’re an emo dress code. There are a few nods to the energy and aggression of 90s emotional hardcore, most notably in Drawn the Light and the fifth track (デイパス / Day Pass), but these aren’t particularly abrasive and are matched by a more reflective downbeat sound on the sixth track (*け犬) and the whimsical opener. Also, while there’s nothing sugary enough to be lumped in with early pop-punk, tracks like the fourth (君待ち) and ninth (パッチワーク / Patchwork) make use of a similar set of hooks and stand out as the album’s catchiest moments. However, these songs are far better described by what unites them: the share a tonal unity of good ol’ nostalgia-and-introspection to the extent that Copy as a whole treads close to homogeneity, but the tracks are smartly sequenced, continually switching between upbeat and downbeat tracks, and so the album avoids being bogged down over its fifty-minute runtime.

While the richly melodic instrumentation carries the band’s sound excellently, trading off between engaging repetition and introducing fresh melodies exactly when things risk stagnating, the key component is vocalist/guitarist Takashi Igarashi’s singing. Igarashi’s voice fits neatly into the nasally-driven, ponderously existential tropes associated with the genre, but whereas many similar vocalists fall into various whinge- and/or reediness-associated pitfalls, Igarashi’s vocals are considerably stronger and boast a melodious quality that sets him as a great strength to the band and one of the best vocalists I’ve heard in this style.

While Copy does have a lot going for it, it still feels like a slightly weightier album than it needs to be; it’s a satisfying start-to-finish listen as it is, but the somewhat blander character of seventh track (I Can’t) Change The World and the closer (土曜日) make the second half feel a little protracted. I can’t help but feel that cutting one of these (probably (I Can’t) Change The World, since 土曜日’s major key does make for a suitably distinct note to end the album on) would have made the album an easier listen. It’s unfair to dwell on these two when the other tracks all hold their own so well - take the third track (生活), which is less an emotional rumination and more a kickass rock song, or the second (無効の日), which balances all the album’s facets into a well-rounded expanse. Variations on a theme, perhaps, but there’s strong songwriting and powerful sentiments at work here, all executed with the infectious rawness of a fresh band on their debut.

The bottom line is, any fan of alt or indie that can stomach this album’s overtly maudlin tone will find something to enjoy here. Unfortunately, unless you are prepared to pay astronomic sums in Japanese CD imports, almost all the band’s albums are nightmarish to track down through either legal or illegal channels, but Copy is well worth the effort and plays out as a staple album for its time of release. So, next time you’re thinking of revisiting your Moon and Antarcticas, your You Forgot It In Peoples or or your Deja Entendus, do yourself a favour and mix it up with this.


*http://drownedinsound.com/in_depth/4152161-the-beginners-guide-to--japanese-post-hardcore



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user ratings (4)
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
December 30th 2018


16100 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is excellent and y'all should hear it. Tracks are referred to by their number as well as their name because I do not trust Sputnik processing Japanese and don't know enough kanji to translate the titles

If anyone wants to hear this but can't find a stream, shoutbox me

Digging: Macaroom - Homephone TE

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
December 31st 2018


16100 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Bump shameless bump

J() Alexander
January 5th 2019


7916 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Sorry, Johnny, but I don't think I dig this one. The weird thing is that usually with emo my problem is that a lot of musicians in the genre seem to be unable to make interesting compositions (or have good vocals, that one is a common problem too) and they just replace their lack of talent by playing with as much feels as possible or something like that, but in this case I think that what was needed was a bit more of emotion in the performances, particularly the vocals (Igarashi's style worked fairly well in the track 6 though), and maybe polish the compositions a little as well.

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
January 5th 2019


16100 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nooo :'[ I get where you're coming from - I quite like the weary feel a lot of this album has going on (especially when the mix things up and rock out a bit more), but it's hardly firing on all emotional cylinders (although if only I could understand the lyrics...)

J() Alexander
January 5th 2019


7916 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Well, I hope someone else listens to it anyway, I'm pretty sure that more than 3 people in this site will enjoy it.

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
January 5th 2019


16100 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Aha preach!



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