Electronica doesn’t require much as far as raw materials are concerned. A hook, a beat, some rhythm — that’s about all that’s required.
For its 2000 album Futurama, Supercar kept that aesthetic in mind, keeping its songwriting barebones but arranging the hell out of the album to make it seem larger than it was.
It’s been four years and two more albums since that first foray into electronica, and now the proverbial pendulum is swinging back.
Before Supercar took an influence from the Chemical Brothers to heart, the Hokkaido-based band played guitar rock in the vein of Ride and Jesus and Mary Chain. On Answer, the band’s seventh studio album and third to use electronica, Supercar has gone back to writing rock music.
“Last Scene” is probably most indicative of this creative shift. The live drums, the piano and the ethereal guitars are decidedly scaled back compared to such earlier works as “Fairway” or “Aoharu Youth”.
It’s also one of the band’s most appealing singles.
The eight-minute “Siren” stretches for as long as it does, not because its driven by a house beat, but because the band actually jams a bit.
The overtly electronica influence isn’t totally gone. “BGM” is robotic but catchy. “Recreation” is driven by guitars, but the feel is totally minimalistic.
But where the band could have used drum machines and walls of synthesizers to achieve the strange effects of “Justice Black” and “Wonder Word”, it instead relies on live playing.
“Sunshine Fairyland” could have been done entirely on synthesizers, but the live bass, guitar and drums are more than serviceable.
Answer also contains actual songs as well — not just a series of motifs set on repeat. “Dischord” and “Harmony” may fall back on repetition, but “Freehand” and “The World Is Naked” contain some actual choruses and bridges.
This album is perhaps Supercar’s most successful balance between rock complexity and electronica simplicity. It’s not as epic as Futurama, but it’s certainly a lot more substantial than 2002’s Highvision.
If anything, it’s the perfect answer to the question of whether rock and electronica really can get along.