Britain’s would-be best

There are a few things preventing Supercar’s Futurama from being one of the best British pop albums to be released in 2000.

Supercar isn’t from Britain, and Futurama isn’t sung in English.

Of course, the same could almost be said if Supercar were based in the States and did sing in English — it doesn’t prevent Futurama from sounding like it came from a Manchester rave or a London garage.

Supercar is really from Japan, as the band’s lyrics attest, but the group’s gorgeous sonic tapestry of buzzing, industrial guitars, techno beats, and square-wave synthesizer effects is far more international.

The Sony press machine compares the band to Lush, the Cranes and Psychocandy-era Jesus and Mary Chain.

Well, it’s a better description than I can come up with, even if it’s still slightly inaccurate. Think of a more electronica-friendly, less-grungey Garbage.

Supercar achieves the kind of balance between rock and dance that major labels were so desparately trying to find back in 1997, when alternative rock really started to leave a bad, putrefying smell.

If anything, Supercar does labelmates Boom Boom Satellites one better by writing actualy tunes.

“White Surf Style 5” is like a Beach Boys song on poppers. “Baby Once More” indulges in the lyrical minimalism of the best club music while employing twangy guitars. “Flava” sports effects that call to mind space-age lounge music, while “A.O.S.A.” sounds like it could have come from Everything But the Girl’s distant garage rock cousins.

“New Young City” features some really nice string arrangements that Jon Crosby probably cosmically channeled while recording VAST’s Music for People, while “Fairway” buzzes to an incessant dance beat.

Bassist/vocalist Nakamura Koji sings like he has a British accent — although not as heavily fake as Love Psychedelico’s Kumi — and his cool croon suits Supercar’s metallic but warm sound.

Aside from being a widly diverse and original work, Futurama is also incredibly cohesive, even as it pulls in 20 directions at one time. It’s an ambitious work that’s skillfully written as it is wonderfully performed.