Buoyant poignancy

OK — let’s get the comparrison blurb out of the way.

soulsberry is the male version of the Brilliant Green.

There. Said it. Now let’s debunk it.

Both bands traffic in insanely tuneful late-60s-meets-early-90s alternative pop. While the Brilliant Green lean more toward the Byrds-by-way-of-R.E.M., soulsberry goes for a beefier, power chord-driven sound akin to Fountains of Wayne or a more polished Weezer.

The band’s members lists a number of 70s-influenced alternative rock acts as favorites — Jellyfish, Blur, Elliott Smith, Jason Falkner. Bespectacled lead singer Ishizuka Tomohiko could very well be Rivers Cuomo’s Japanese cousin.

The End of Vacation, soulsberry’s “major” debut on Avex Trax, sports a stronger, more robust sound than the band’s self-titled indie album, effectively capturing the energy of the Hokkaido quartet’s live show.

A re-recorded version of “Smash”, in particular, shows how far the band has come. With a slightly faster tempo and a hook played in double-time, this newer version of “Smash” improves vastly on the old.

soulsberry’s punchy performance, however, doesn’t quite mask a dark undercurrent inherent in the band’s music.

“Spirit Song” rocks out, but if it were played at half tempo on acoustic guitars, it would definitely transform into something more haunting. “Personality” sounds as angry as it does joyous.

When Ishizuka proclaims “It’s a beautiful day” on the like-titled opener (“Beautiful Day”), he sings the line with more biting delivery than the lyrics reveal.

Played side by side with fellow countrymen and aesthetic soulmates Nananine, soulsberry comes across as buoyantly poignant.

soulsberry definitely have all the trappings for a critics’ darling band and more than enough potential to be hitmakers. The End of Vacation packs one well-written, terrifically-performed song after another.