Remember the critical meme that popped up last year after the release of Port Entropy, the one where folks became skeptical of pop whiz Shugo Tokumaru because he seemed “creepy” sticking to sounds of kid-whimsy? Still a pretty dumb opinion (in my opinion) but the blog-owning chorus gets a little more evidence with the news Tokumaru has rejoined his childhood friends in his old band Gellers and have released a new song titled “Guatemala.” I guess the guy really pines for his youth.
Despite feeding into a convenient backlash, “Guatemala” actually gives the world a typical Shugo song without the twee touches. Gone are the toy instruments and other nostalgia-inducing sounds, replaced by gasp guitar! A few quirky touches sneak in…goofy percussion bopping up, the whistling from both humans and instruments…but for the most part this plucks Tokumaru out of his childhood bedroom and tosses him into, well, a proper band. “Guatemala” boasts a super catchy melody and great sing-a-longs, touchstones of anything that appeared on Port Entropy or any of Tokumaru’s previous three albums. Yet the Gellers set-up, while enjoyable, basically strips Shugo-appropriate music of anything that defined them as Tokumaru’s. Which, hey, should be expected – this isn’t solely his outfit. Yet Gellers are being hyped up as “Tokumaru’s old band” not as “a great old group back together again.” “Guatemala” is a great little indie-pop song that will probably get a lot of plays around my house for the rest of the year, but if you want Shugo seek out his albums. Just appreciate Gellers for Gellers.