Nobody seems to have told the Brilliant Green the 60s were over more than 30 years ago.
The hippy vibe on the Japanese trio’s self-titled debut comes out pretty strong with the opening strains of “I’m in Heaven,” and for the remaining 40 or so minutes, it doesn’t let up.
It’s as if the Byrds recorded with the Velvet Underground sometime around 1994.
Not like there’s anything wrong with referencing perhaps the most influencial era of modern music. The Brilliant Green’s sharp songwriting keeps listeners firmly planted in the late 1990s while maintaining a distinctly vintage tinge.
On some tracks, such as “Tsumetai Hana”, “I” and “Baby London Star”, BuriGuri (as the band is known in Japan) sound like your typical pre-grunge, second-generation R.E.M.-influenced alternative pop band.
But more frequently, Kawase Tomoko and company keep matters light and bouncy. The doo-doo chorus of “You&I”, the “There She Goes”-like rhythm of “Stand By” and the white soul of “Magic Place” all evoke more flower-power lovin’ than Edie Brickell on holiday.
Lead singer Kawase has developed a reputation for writing her lyrics mostly in English, delivering her words in a thick, accented mumble. Her English isn’t terribly awkward, but her untrained voice feels more natural delivering Japanese than English.
For a debut album, The Brilliant Green is an impressive work, chock full of memorable, expertly-written songs, done in a style that draws as much from the past as the present.
It’s definitely an disc for the very light-hearted — folks who like a bit of darkness in their rock music might find the band’s sunny-ness a bit too much to handle. (The band’s third album, Los Angeles, is a good place to start.)