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New Boyish: “Saudade”

Apologies if this blog has seemed a bit nostalgic lately…that’s partially because many of the artists that were formative for me from 2010 — 2013 when doing this came back with new material that has put me in a weird headspace. And now here comes indie-pop outfit Boyish, a group that started life as a bunch of guys playing zippy and melancholy twee-adjacent rock under a layer of feedback. But I’ve also realized — especially after listening to “Saudade” — how much of my experiences with certain bands are just, like, things I’ll never really be able to share with most people. Shout out to the two dozen people who went to Shibuya Echo (more a living room than a livehouse) to watch Boyish play every few months, but for most folks this is nothing. I think this realization — which, really, I should have had much earlier in life, but that’s 2018 for you — makes “Saudade” hurt a little more. It’s a slow, mournful number, punctured by a saxophone that opts for sadness over urban chilling. It’s probably a little too long a sulk session, but I’m also in a zone where I am happy to soak myself in it. Listen above.

New Boyish: “Asagao No Hana”

It wasn’t long ago that Boyish were making only feedback-glazed indie-pop, the sort of brittle numbers that proudly wore their bedroom-feel on their sleeves. “Asagao No Hana” sees the project trying out something a touch more refined. This crept into a song released last month too, but it’s on this newest number where they really give it a go. “Asagao” features violins playing throughout the song, adding a melancholy to the verses and helping really push the emotions through come the chorus. What makes it avoid being the sound of a band trying to be mature is the electric guitar squalls and horn blurts that pop up around the edges, offering a little unease to an otherwise shiny song. Listen above.

New Boyish: “Hikoukigumo Sora Ni Hitosuji”

Off of their just-released full-length Strings, Boyish’s “Hikoukigumo Sora Ni Hitosuji” presents a way to incorporate saxophone into an indie-pop song without crashing into full blown city pop. Which is becoming more of a problem in 2016 — look, I’ll go to bat for ’80s city pop any day, but the current “city pop revival” (read: everyone heard “Get Lucky”) more often than not lacks the same spark found in the Bubble ear version…probably because Japan is most certainly not in a Bubble era right now. This shift has hurt bands such as Special Favorite Music, who have made some fantastic, skippy indie-pop in recent memory, but on their recent debut album World’s Magic go way too slow in an attempt to be…a half-speed Suchmos? Whatever, because Boyish show sax doesn’t automatically equal city pop. “Hikoukigumo” exists in the same zone the band has long played in — not as feedback-drenched as their early days, but still taking nods from Sarah Records. And there is that sax coming in, adding extra sweetness to the song without throwing it off course. Which makes the finale all the better. Listen above.

New Boyish: “Dreaming Boogie”

Tokyo indie-pop outfit have fleshed themselves out a bit in recent times, going from a fuzz-shrouded indie-pop band who sounded like they were recording under several blankets to a band who, on “Dreaming Boogie,” break out the saxophone. Coming from the soon-to-be-released Strings, “Dreaming Boogie” finds the group embracing lusher sounds, from the aforementioned sax to string swells to wet bass. The trade off is energy — whereas before they shambled, now they kind of stroll along on a sunny day — but its a pleasant enough number, and that sax though. Listen above.

New Boyish: “Down By The Garden” (Video)

Tokyo’s Boyish have been one of those indie-level bands that are hard to keep track of. Since 2012, the indie-pop-leaning outfit has released a lot of songs onto the Internet, and a handful of EPs and albums along the way too. Likes Boys Age…or, honestly, most rock groups existing under the radar in Tokyo…a lot of good music zips by just because of how haphazardly they seem to chuck it out there. Dead Funny Records…who released Boyish’s “proper” debut album Sketch For 8000 Days Of Moratorium last year…have compiled a lot of Boyish’s music into one place, and will release it on April 1 as the Lalalu cassette tape. It is a 25-track collection hitting on a lot of their highlights — “The Hidden Secrets,” nice — and to give you a taste of it they’ve shared a special video for the 2013 fuzz-pop cut “Down By The Garden.” Check it out above.