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New QQIQ: 000-000

The group QQIQ always have worked in somewhat secretive ways. Sure, they posted all of their songs to YouTube, so it wasn’t that mysterious, but they rarely shared any pictures of themselves, and the only way to get their albums was to follow a special online ordering process. And the music could carry that same vibe…at their best, QQIQ captured a feeling out of time, where emotions tumble around freely and words ultimately feel like an instrument rather than something to decode (see their masterpiece, “Daydream”). No band has proven to be more influential in Japan this decade than Soutaiseiriron, and few were seemingly as big as students of them than QQIQ.

The unit announced recently they were calling it quits, and put out a new album (well, featuring songs they’ve been playing since they worked under a different name), 000-000, which can be purchased or streamed via YouTube. It’s a bittersweet release, one highlighting both the elements they picked up from others (the near-whispered vocal delivery) and their twist on it (the zippy, indie-pop-leaning melodies that add an extra sweetness to songs such as “Chord & Melody”). The songs here are catchy, from the opening skip of “People’s Life” to the confident strut of “Night Dancing,” but there is a sense of uneasy on the edges, conveyed by shrouds of electronics hovering over the songs or the moments the singing recedes further into the sound. It’s a strong goodbye. Listen above.