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Surprise Bend: Shortcake Collage Tape’s “Polaroid Full Of Kisses”

All praise be to Japanese indie-pop and the description “jangly,” but the one downside of Japan’s current twee obsession is the slow realization that a lot of this stuff sounds the same. That, in and of itself, isn’t a bad thing – if the music sounds good, the music sounds good so whatever. Yet at this point, when I see a band with a cutesy/youthful name, I’m making big assumptions about what I’m going to hear, and not being shocked by the melancholy, sugary sounds about to come out my speakers. One look at a project called Shortcake Collage Tape and my indie-pop bells were ringing – a song titled “Polaroid Full Of Kisses” and I probably could have written the entire post without hitting play on the SoundCloud button. I did click, though, awaiting something sounding like NME-approved outfit BOYISH.

Instead, “Polaroid” opened with some guitar picking and noises I imagine you would hear if you lived inside a lava lamp. When the downtempo drums and muffled vocal sample kicked in seconds later, all my preconceptions were dashed. This isn’t jangly or cute – it’s indie-pop pulled inward, twee as done by someone like Teams or even Washed Out. Shortcake himself tagged the song as “chillwave” but that word comes with too much baggage about nostalgia and weed to do “Polaroid” justice. The best moment comes a little later, when this achingly gorgeous flute wisps into the song and Shortcake triggers a sample of dialogue from what sounds like an anime. “Polaroid” definitely adheres to twee ideas – this thing aches melancholy daydreaming, albeit done in a very private way – but the production is so different from everything else happening in Japanese indie-pop at the moment that this track leaves a deeper impression than most. Listen below.

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