First of all let me start this album review by saying I LOVE THE JAPANESE MOTORS. Unfortunately, shortly after their self-titled debut album made a splash, they got washed out to sea. Luckily, singer-guitarist-surfer Alex Knost, of the Japanese Motors is freaking back with his new band, Tomorrows Tulips. Accompanied by girlfriend Christina Keyes, the surf/garage rock influences remain but the sound is different. The duo’s debut album Eternally Teenage just came out Tuesday July 19, 2011 on CD, vinyl and digital download.
The title track, “Eternally Teenage” immediately sweeps you into its cuddling, fuzzy guitar and vocals. The back up ooo wah ooos could gently ease you into a lazy summer day and the simple driving beats push it along. These are the key elements of their sound that repeat through out the album.
“Lull” switches it up with some Uhh Uhh Uhh’s of varying intensity and the song smoothly fades out with finger snaps. This is a solid song but a background song. Perhaps to water the plants, do the dishes, doodle? Christina lends her woozy vocals on “Shades of Grey” which is a lo-fi psychedelic charmer, fit for any drug induced space out.
The album also dives into some up-tempo arms-flailing rock with “Casual Hopelessness” and “Roses.” “Casual Hopelessness” builds a lot of momentum with its quick kick drum buildups and a catchy guitar riffs that sound like it came straight off an old, scratchy, record that you can’t get enough of. The lyrics only make it all that more catchier with, “Whatever you’re doing, and how it may be, I want you doing something nice, and it’d be nice if you did it with me, and it’d be right if you did it with me.” This is my favorite jam on the album and perfect for a mix to give to your bff, hubby/wifey, or secret lover. Make sure they appropriately thank you later.
Segue into the sentimental groove of “Roses” which swoons with a heavy 60s girl group beat: “Let’s remember, there’s no shame, we fall for love, it’s all insane, trying to recall those feelings, that feel the same, that feel the same…” You’ll be drifting in-and-out of the plucky guitar chords and stoner croon with stars in your eyes and heartache in your chest.
The weak points of the album are the minute-or-less noisy and seemingly misplaced intros and interludes that are sprinkled throughout. No love for interludes this time around, sorry.
The laidback, lo-fi, bedroom demo recording style of this album is what makes it work and what sets it apart from the more polished sound of previous Japanese Motors efforts. It takes several listens to grow accustomed to the occasionally meddling distortion and to make out half the lyrics, yet you’ll be happy when you do as the beauty of this album is precisely that they aren’t trying too hard to be so retro or perfectly poppy; they stay true to their sound.
Album Review by Emily Saex
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