Review Summary: Breathless hypergenki joyousness
Mass of the Fermenting Dregs’ first two minialbums are a gold standard for the excitable end of the indieverse. Their amped-up blend of alt rock, post-hardcore and shoegaze is so cohesively and energetically synthesised that they’ve remained a steady reference point over the last decade' or anyone partial to any their touchstone styles, in or out of J-rock. This is particularly impressive when you consider that they haven’t released anything of remotely the same quality in over ten years. There's something so palpably earnest, wide-eyed and - above all! - fun about vocalist/bassist Natsuko Miyamoto’s soaring holler and the band's adrenalised clamour that their early work never lost its charm and their later full-lengths are still endearing for their traces of glory. Still very much active on the live circuit and evidently happy to crack out the classics at peak exuberance, the band sometimes seem to be living in a moment in time that kicked off in the late ‘00s and never really ended for them. All things considered, they’re doing a respectable job at keeping it alive.
Anyhow, their second iconic minialbum World Is Yours
is probably the most intense release in their small canon. It follows on seamlessly from their fantastic self-titled debut, so much so that it might as well be viewed as a companion piece rather than an outright sophomore. Naturally, a few things have changed: this release is a little faster, a little heavier and a little less prone to catching its breath than its predecessor. 'Exhilarating' and 'expansive' are the most pertinent adjectives to point at any Mass… release, and if World Is Yours
makes any kind of distinct statement, it's to tone down the airier instances of the latter and double down on the fiercest facets of the former. From the lurching rhythm that kickstarts opener "Kono Speed no Saki E" to the stop-start catchiness of "Kakuiu Mono" to the blistering "She is Outside, He is Inside", these six tracks present the most visceral experience the Dregs, in their Mass, have to offer. Most of the time this comes across as an intensified take on their usual hypergenki joyousness, but at points - those being "She is Outside, He is Inside" and the unhinged opening of the title track - it sounds outright nasty, since-departed guitarist Chiemi Ishimoto eschewing melody almost entirely to lay down an angular barrage perfectly poised to fuck with your heart rate. These cuts are a little jarring given that the Dregs’ usual hooks are a shoe-in for whichever sweetshop you usually get your indie syrup, but the dissonant approach suits them and makes for an enjoyable change of tone.
Straight-up dissonance only goes so far on this release, however. The highlights, like all the band's best tracks, find ever-evolving ways to implement their vertiginous thrill. The lategame quiet-loud kingpin "Nannan" starts out with a foreboding arpeggio and lays down a fair measure of suspense before crashing in with waves of distortion, conjuring up the stomach-lurching powerlessness you'd get from a plane descending at an uncomfortable trajectory. It's impressive to see them deliver something so gripping using relatively simple assets of the rock toolkit in a straightforward manner, yet the release's crown jewel “Aoi, Koi, Daidai-iro no Hibi” takes a looser approach to structure, letting its midtempo groove call the shots. It goes through many shifts of gear but is momentous enough to take them all in its stride, boasting a huge chorus, engaging shifts of dynamics, and comfortably the catchiest bassline Miyamoto ever laid down. In the correct timeline where the Dregs’ thunderous banger “I F A Surfer” was acknowledged as the pinnacle of rock music in 2008 and the band used their untouchable success to power through stupendous albums instead of procrastinating mediocre ones, this would be the critic’s choice in the karaoke parlour.
There’s only so much that can be said for a vintage Mass of the Fermenting Dregs release beyond that 1) they quote-unquote rip
2) the'll likely never make records on that level again 3) they’re atmospheric (read: contain reverb and competent shifts of dynamics) 4) no-one belts indie rock hooks quite like Natsuko Miyamoto and 5) the band make an obscene amount of noise for a three-piece. Unsurprisingly enough, World Is Yours
epitomises all these noble qualities and stands decisively as one of the band’s essential releases. It retains their broad crossover appeal for practically anyone comfortable with the high-octane end of alt rock or the atmospheric side of post-hardcore and holds up solidly across repeat listens. The early Dregs releases are so saturated with typically fleeting giddiness and joy that it’s impressive how little wears off; rarely have rock songs so concerned with melding distinct sub-genres been performed with such a robust level of passion. Eleven years on, it's starting to feel a little timeless.