Review Summary: A rising star in noise-pop/hip-hop teases her next move...
If Haru Nemuri’s debut full-length Haru to Shura
was most of the unexpected, exciting and generally excellent albums of 2018, the follow-up European tour was a follow-on knockout punch that hit 2019 right in its midriff…for those lucky enough to make it along, anyway. An open-air appearance at Spain’s Primavera Festival aside, the tour was made up primarily of pub gigs and small stages, the capacity sizes of which became painfully obvious given the healthy attendance rates. Not that Haru was remotely fussed - the whole thing could have been a stadium tour as far as she was concerned, and the sense of a foreign artist overjoyed at her hitherto invisible international fanbase turning out for her was delightfully evident. At both the gigs I caught (I was conveniently headed up to Scotland from London at exactly the same time as her), she was all wide-eyed excitement and impassioned energy, taking her most powerful tracks to new heights in a flurry of screams, stage diving, and unexpectedly adroit crowd rapport (taking the piss out of her own dancing to get the crowd more into theirs was not something I saw coming, but it worked a treat). All things considered, the shows I saw reinforced everything I suspected about the crossover appeal offered by Haru to Shura
’s noise-pop/hip-hop hybrid and capitalised on its songs’ huge energy and inspiration as well as could be imagined. Moreover, they confirmed the most important thing of all: Haru Nemuri has got something special going.
But that wasn’t quite everything. We got a few older gems (Inochi ni Natte
and the secret treasure of her discography, Sayonara Boku no Cinderella
) and - shock horror - a pair of new songs
. Both of which are lined up for inclusion on her currently unannounced sophomore album and were sold after the show on a demo CD, which I naturally picked up. I had a lot of excitement and also a little uncertainty when I put it on for the first time. Haru to Shura
was such a great statement of an album and so full of the sense of Haru Nemuri discovering the full potential of her sound that I couldn’t really imagine it being followed up by anything in exactly the same vein; it felt like a sonic awakening that I couldn’t see being replicated. And so, all sorts of questions came to mind as I found myself confronted by what my imagination quickly distorted into a teaser for Haru to Shura II
: would it be a step forwards or a doubling down on a successful formula？ An unexpected jackpot or a half-baked throwaway？
The first thing I realised upon hearing the disc was how overblown these expectations were, partially because of the obvious fact that this is a demo EP with two fucking songs on it
, but mainly because the songs themselves both take a simplistic approach that seems far less concerned with stepping into Haru to Shura
’s legacy (as though that’s a vaguely worthwhile headspace) and much more with unpretentious fun. Case in point, Riot
opts for an uptempo twist of the formula presented on her 2018 single Kick In The World
, quickly introducing a one-note chorus that seems one-note but later develops into an expansive bridge that adds considerable weight to the rest of the track. It’s doesn’t hold nearly the same knockout value that Kick In The World
did, but it’s full of the the peppy energy that made Haru Nemuri so appealing to begin with. It’s fairly straightforward, but it’s rewarding enough. The other track, Love Theism
, is a little more interesting. This one tends more towards Haru’s hip-hop roots and sounds like it would have felt more at home on her Atom Heart Mother
minialbum than on Haru to Shura
. This is encouraging, as that release had a range of ideas that seemed to have been left behind for the most part; Love Theism
picks up on the sense of intrigue present in songs like Kuuki Ningyou
and skirts Haru to Shura
’s maximalism in favour of something more subtly satisfying. I’m particularly interested to hear what this one sounds like in its final form.
There’s little more to say here other than that these are two decent tracks that sit comfortably in Haru Nemuri’s growing canon without raising the bar or competing with her greats. It’s not worthwhile to scrutinise them in great detail given that they aren't in their final forms, but given that these demo versions are the same as those performed live, I suspect they’re most of the way there. As a gesture of fan service to make up for her merch stall selling out of T-shirts before reaching the UK, the demo gets full marks. As a reason to get early hype up for the follow-up album she’s clearly working towards, well…watch this page.