For most of their existence, Teen Runnings (formerly Friends) coated their surf-rock in feedback and distortion, an intentional move meant to fracture what was otherwise warm nostalgia for a time the group never lived through. New demo track “Sightseeing” initially offers up a bit of a departure for the group – it sounds super clear. The drums come through without any sonic obstruction, and the guitars are “Kokomo” smooth. Lead singer Syouta Kaneko even sounds unmuffled.
Turns out the unease lining their more dissonant work shifted to the lyrics. Teen Runnings’ words have always been a mix of bright-eyed innocence and unease – “yesterday I met you/I think I love you” is puppy-dog naive, but also kinda creepy. “Sightseeing” is about traveling and, well, sightseeing, but it isn’t totally upbeat. Our protagonist wants to meet new people, but one line hints at the fact they don’t seem to have many chums in their hometown. A line like “Though memories will disappear in 2 weeks and even forget the names of the buildings we’ve been to” hints at the futility of travel, while the main character’s mother even shows up to sort of look at the proposition of travel funny. Yet, like the music, brightness still breaks through. The whole thing can best be summed up in the best line – “See the towns, see their darker sides. There’s no paradise that you hope to be/Now feel the sun, see those birds flying. Don’t get butterflies, that’s the world for you.” Listen below.