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Bump Of Chicken Release New Single: “R.I.P./Merry Christmas”

J-Rock stars Bump Of Chicken haven’t released a new single in two years, practically an eternity in the J-Music business. I’ve never listened to this rock group before, but the new single in question, “R.I.P./Merry Christmas,” popped up on the Internet a few days ago. This isn’t just another new release…this is the first new single by one of the most popular rock outfits in Japan in a couple of years.

Wikipedia (yeah yeah I know) says every Bump Of Chicken single since their third one has appeared in the Oricon Weekly Charts, one of the biggest charting organizations in the country. “R.I.P./Merry Christmas” will be Bump’s 15th single. Since “R.I.P.” was posted, the video has been viewed 243,985 times. When this thing drops later in the month, it’s going to sell mad numbers – don’t forget it comes out during holiday shopping time AND boasts a Christmas song as the b-side. There is no better time to listen to Bump Of Chicken then right now.

The generally subdued sound on “R.I.P.” ends up being the song’s strongest point. That’s not a jab – most modern J-Rock goes to great length to prove just how “rock” it is, cramming in as many guitar solos and as much noise to stand out from the rest of the J-Pop pack. Bump Of Chicken choose to go the Snow Patrol route and aim at making a small-screen U2 song. The verses slowly build toward the chorus, the guitars staying locked in position and the drum especially soft. Everything swirls around Motoo Fujiwara’s reeled-in singing which never rises much above contemplative. His voice picks up ever-so-slightly at the chorus and he hits one squeaky note, but otherwise he avoids over-emoting a song that could be over-the-top in theme (I have no idea what he’s singing about, but the facepalm of a video hints at something pretty heavy, man).

“R.I.P” runs far too long (just over six minutes) and thus feels the need to mix the formula up to keep the tune fresh. This results in two atmosphere-killing guitar solos that are as out of place as the CGI dinosaur in the music video. I’m also not sold on the ambient intro which sounds way too corny for its own good. Still, “R.I.P.” ends up being being a refreshing dose of tuned down rock for about three minutes and thirty seconds.

B-side “Merry Christmas” is a much easier beast to cut apart – I mean, it announces everything it intends to be in the title. It’s straight up wintertime feel-good music, complete with sheets of jingle bells and some Irish-tinged folk trimmings. “Merry Christmas” is neither a modern day Christmas pop miracle like “All I Want For Christmas Is You” nor is it a big fat piece of sonic fruitcake that is “Ballin’ On Xmas.” It’s a pleasant holiday tune bound to play out of Japanese convenience store speakers and soundtrack at least one Christmas food-related advertisement. Nothing more, nothing less.

(Thanks to JPOP Lover for posting about these new songs)