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Smudged Surprise: Tempalay’s “Kakumei Zenya”

Tempalay seemed like a pretty forgettable rock band in 2016. The group released an album called From Japan, and the songs within sounded like most of the other Mac DeMarco-derived sunny-day rock that was just starting to take off — in no hurry, practically bored with itself, some forced wackiness (especially in videos). But this year has revealed some surprising wrinkles to the group. Their latest EP, put out in February, features five songs inspired by a tour of the United States, which isn’t the most exciting premise for a musical release. Yet the songs revealed a smudgier sound for the group, their laid-back rock now actually featuring details of someone who has actually smoked weed — it’s one of 2017’s bigger surprises around these corners, highlighted by wobbly numbers such as “New York.”

“Kakkumei Zenya” isn’t quite as off-kilter, but it comes close, and further highlights Tempalay as a band actually worth caring about. Made in conjunction with the GAP’s 1969 Records TV (a fact I wish I could make fun of, except they propped up Taquwami last year and I gotta respect that), “Kakumei Zenya” is a lava-lamp-paced number where the little details make the song shine — the flute-like melody that brings to mind Fishmans, the violin samples lurking in the mix, the goofy little piano interlude that feels zonked out of its brain. Whereas other groups you could lump them in with are content to just bask in the sun and offer up nothing of interest, Tempalay at least let weird details drift to the front. It’s helping them float out from the pack. Listen above.