Review Summary: Fuck your prog rock

because it’s barnstorming noise-punk with sax. Limited Express (has gone?) spent the majority of their longstanding residency of the Kansai punk scene as a good band on the cusp of greatness, but after a generous number of just-decent offerings they evidently thought it high time to level the fuck up. Perfect Me (2019) sees them churn out a large proportion of their best tracks to date, introduce hexen woodwind blasts to their sound, and see off that extra mile like yesterday’s asagohan. No sleight on their past work; that brand of noise-rock-punk is a noble one and with such a prominent groove emphasis that it occasionally verges on hip-hop, they play it well. Too well, perhaps. Ever since the terrific psych-noiz jams of their debut Feeds You (2003), their output has been a little too repetitive and predictable for my liking; those grooves carry themselves, but they don’t leave scratches.

Perfect Me is different. It will scratch you. It bops like an electric jazzcat on heat. It’s a revitalisation, almost certainly the freshest, tightest, meanest album LE(hg?) have made to date, and it ain’t just thanks to the sax. The band’s writing and pacing here are bloody excellent, shifting gears at the drop of the hat within and without individual tracks, while they dish out bombast and brimstone performances every step of the way. Their foundation is watertight enough that the sax’s role is fairly superficial, if highly gratifying; it never carries the arrangement, but is always on hand to intensify whatever momentary noisewarp is going down, or to accentuate whichever song with an unlikely melodic sparkage. It is a secret weapon but not secret: it is loud and you will love it.

The tracklist is consequentially awesome, incendiary entry’s distinct valence resonating over the album’s spartan runtime. Some are straightforward rippers (“LIE DETECTOR says TRUE”), some kick off into volatile funk-punk grooves (“Formation”), others lean all the way back into lip-curlin’ dub (“Chirakaru (Go to Mess)”), and then there are the polecat facemelters where off-kilter hardcore gets turned up to fuckin full and main girl Yukari smashes her marbles all over whatever scattergun hirajoshi noise bullshit and everything is beautiful (“New Dream (Bond Girl)”). It’s not quite perfect; while proficient and enjoyable in their right, I don’t think the dub tracks show as much flair as the scorchers. “Useless” is a particular offender to this end, and it’s testament to the album’s speedball commitment that one three-minute track can feel like such a significant lull.

That’s the way it be when you live fast; shouganai. The majority of these tracks are zingers; some are extremely catchy; almost all are loud and colourful. Opener “Hyakki Yagyou (Night Parade of One Hundred Demons)” is a flurry of noise and frantic antics, at once sensationally overblown and razor-focused. Limited Express (has gone?) show their experience here, amping their style up to its most performative while nailing the fundamentals more precisely than ever. They’ve finally graduated to the same conversations as the likes of Midori, Bleach, Melt-Banana and more recently Otoboke Beaver. Good for them; they might be scene veterans but now they have something substantive to show for it. Perfect Me is a banger. You should listen to it




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user ratings (3)
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
June 10th 2021


37688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

extremely lazy review for which i make no apologies because 

1) the current staff queue has a strong deficit of bright colours

2) shit fking slaps

Digging: ZOC - PvP

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
June 10th 2021


24533 Comments


Ooooh nice they gonna be happy you wrote this man.

Send it to them on Twitter.

Digging: Kultivator - Barndomens Stigar

Mythodea
June 10th 2021


6283 Comments


this is amazing

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
June 10th 2021


37688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I cannot find their twitter despite searching for five ENTIRE minutes :[ you got a link Dewi?

DivergentThinking
Contributing Reviewer
June 10th 2021


9984 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Pretty sure it's this page: https://twitter.com/ni_hao_blue

Nocte
Staff Reviewer
June 10th 2021


14285 Comments


--1) the current staff queue has a strong deficit of bright colours--

the best reason let's be real. but what about purple death metal albs

Digging: Diskord - Degenerations

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
June 10th 2021


24533 Comments


Yeah the one that Div linked it's the singer's account.

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
June 10th 2021


37688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Okay, shoutboxed her maybe she will hate it lol

"but what about purple death metal albs"

prog bullshit



dimsim3478
June 10th 2021


8933 Comments


hard agree! i like pretty much anything LE puts out but this definitely felt like "woah they kicked it up a notch from the last few records"

They’ve finally graduated to the same conversations as the likes of Midori, Bleach, Melt-Banana and more recently Otoboke Beaver.

I don't necessarily disagree here but I think it's more of a Western sentiment that these bands are some kind of "pantheon of Japanese noise rock". I don't think people in Japan think of those bands together at all; are they really considered important parts of some established "Japanese noise rock canon", or are they just some great bands that people enjoy without reference to some kind of overarching narrative of musical history? For example, I rarely ever see Otoboke Beaver or Midori described as "noise rock" in Japanese writing or conversation. I'm not saying the genre categorisation is wrong, I'm just saying the description of them in Western writing and conversation as part of some "Japanese noise rock tradition" seems imagined. And who's to say that other people don't already think that Limited Express is on par with those other bands? Perhaps it's more accurate to say "they’ve finally graduated to the same conversations as the likes of [so and so] in my eyes."

Whenever Western people compare Japanese bands I always get the sense that they're trying to prove that they're some kind of authority on Japanese music when usually they're just mentioning, like, the same Japanese bands that every Western person knows (Fishmans, Haru Nemuri, Number Girl, Ajikan, The Pillows, Polkadot Stingray, you know what I mean). It always feels like namedropping for the sake of namedropping rather than providing any genuine insight into the significance of the subjects. It's like if a Japanese person said "wow, Jeff Rosenstock finally graduated to the same conversations as the likes of Bad Religion, the Ramones, Dillinger Four and The Gaslight Anthem". They're not totally incomparable bands, but what does that statement really say other than "this is some very good punk rock", and "I know 5 Western punk bands"?

Digging: Dotsuitarunen - WILD&CRAZY??

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
June 10th 2021


37688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i'm not sure what that point adds beyond the subtext that those artists are all loosely comparable and highly regarded within western discussion circles, which is what this is. you're not going to get a domestic angle because i am not a japanese reviewer and i unfortunately do not have open access to the kansai underground scene, both of which are self-explanatory. i am more concerned with providing recognisable reference points for this rev's inevitably narrow readerbase that reflect an accurate degree of quality than with pinpointing stylistic similarities to the most appropriate acts. that means familiar names, and that means catering to the western crowd. most people on this site have not jammed all of those artists, so it's better to name more, plus a narrower range would imply a more direct stylistic comparison. also, that jr analogy doesn't hold bc all cited artists have been contemporaries of each other at various points and midori and ob are both expediently local to this band



i do get what you mean though, and i kinda regret including mxbx because they're the least relevant to limited express and also the most overcited for anything japanese and noisy, but all the other acts there have plausible parallels and sit on a s imilar standard, so tbh i'm not sure of the issue here

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
June 10th 2021


21172 Comments


Sometimes I can tell it's a johnny review just by the band name

dimsim3478
June 10th 2021


8933 Comments


tbh i'm not sure of the issue here

I just don't think there's any good reason to compare Midori, Bleach, Otoboke, MxBx and LE to each other or group them together. The obvious similarity that they're all Japanese unorthodox hardcore punk-influenced acts with female vocals doesn't seem like enough of a reason to put them in the same box; doing so seems reductive to me. Hence the analogy of comparing Jeff Rosenstock to Bad Religion, Ramones, Dillinger Four and The Gaslight Anthem. Those artists are comparable in some obvious ways, but why would you ever compare them to each other? Does it say anything other than "these are melodic punk rock bands with male vocals"? I don't think comparing them offers any real insight (an example of an insightful comparison would be The Tallest Man on Earth and Bob Dylan), and same goes for comparing LE to Midori, Bleach, Otoboke and MxBx. I know that they're often grouped together amongst English-speaking online music fans like on RYM but I think that's just because of the aforementioned superficial similarities. I don't know that anybody in Japan would even mention them in the same breath; I've seen no evidence that any of them are associated with each other, been influenced by each other, have played together (except for Otoboke and MxBx, who have played with LE), or that Japanese listeners consider them part of some widely accepted "gold standard" for noise rock (again, I don't know that Japanese people even think of Midori and Otoboke as "noise rock"; perhaps they transcend these boxes). Furthermore, does comparing them to each other even say anything more than "these bands are all Japanese noise rock with female vocals"? They make sense together in the "recommended albums" section because a person who likes one might like the others, but are they actually similar or related in any interesting way, such that you would call them part of a shared canon or history? I don't think so. Hence, it just seems like meaningless namedropping to me.

Cygnatti
June 10th 2021


35217 Comments


fuck prog rock [2]

Digging: Space Needle - Voyager

Faraudo
June 10th 2021


3958 Comments


Insufferable band name

Digging: The Devil Wears Prada - ZII

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
June 10th 2021


37688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"but are they actually similar or related in any interesting way, such that you would call them part of a shared canon or history?"

They’ve finally graduated to the same conversations as the likes of Midori, Bleach, Melt-Banana and more recently Otoboke Beaver

this means that a lot of people rate em highly because they are all great bands, end of. if you want to read into it that there's an implication each of those bands are directly stylistically comparable with each other, that 'conversations' amount to canon, or that it's somehow a pretence at a detailed scene reconstruction, that's on you. i am not about to buy a ticket to osaka so i can walk around surveying japanese punk fans on their view of the best and most applicable bands to le(hg?) when i'm perf happy that that short list of western-netizen-recognisable names does all it needs to: suggest a vague quality standard

"Insufferable band name"

shut the fuck up

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
June 10th 2021


24533 Comments


" i am not about to buy a ticket to osaka so i can walk around surveying japanese punk fans..."

You don't need to my boy, I'm already here. Dimsim, all the bands Johnny mentioned (is it wrong to name-drop on reviews now?) are indeed related. There IS a noise punk, rock underground scene, both in Kansai and Kanto areas, beautifully filmed in Noriko Oiishi's MOTHERFUCKER doc, which follows Limited Express around and shows quite a bit of the scene. Otoboke Beaver belonged to the Kansai scene before they got big. Now they play shows by themselves cause underground live houses can't pay for them, with a few exceptions.

Members of all the bands Johnny mentioned are friends with each other, have or are playing in different projects together and have shared the bill and they still do in many occasions. It is perfectly acceptable to compare them because they do sound similar, with Melt Banana being the stem and Limited, Otori, LLRR and even o'summer vacation (where I play) carrying part of their sound into this time and age.

@Faraudo

Shut the fuck up [2]

Hawks
June 10th 2021


74666 Comments


perfect MEN

Digging: ...and Oceans - Cosmic World Mother

Divaman
June 10th 2021


11438 Comments


Prog rock forever!

Digging: The Chandler Estate - Infrastructure

Hawks
June 10th 2021


74666 Comments


Divamen

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
June 10th 2021


37688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"beautifully filmed in Noriko Oiishi's MOTHERFUCKER"

gonna watch this this weekend shit yay



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