My image of Tokyo long ago became demystified, even before I got a room in a sleepy corner of the city and decided to call Japan’s capital my current home. It’s just a sprawling place to me, one mixing glassy skyscrapers with drab apartment complexes disrupted by the occasional park or shrine. It is nothing like the imaginary Tokyo of my youth, colored by cartoons and movies, which I pictured as one always-flickering neon light, full of high-tech devices and robots. I imagine lots of Westerners saw Tokyo this way in the ’80s…if not today…and who knows if it ever was that sleek and electronic.
Tokyo’s Alloapm’s “O.l.i.v.i.a.” reminds me of what I expected Tokyo to sound like when I viewed it as some proto-Jetsons paradise. It’s all twinkly synths and club-ready beats, a distinctly nocturnal creation that at times seems seconds from burning out, as the synths get too bright and practically go out of tune. For the most part, though, it’s sleek and sexy stuff, an all-nighter fueled by bright lights and booze. Which wouldn’t be all that remarkable – plenty of groups do that 80s throwback – if it weren’t for the vocals. Aided by an electronic hiccup, they add a sense of late-night longing to the track. The way the singer stretches out words adds an ennui to this song, of searching for something in the night and not really finding it. Listen below.