In the center

I’m still trying to figure out where in the spectrum of indie rock bands Remioromen falls, but singer Fujimaki Ryouta’s voice keeps distracting me.

It’s a damn fine voice.

It’s not as nostalgic as Spitz’s Kusano Masamune nor as heavy as WINO’s Yoshimura Atsushi. And it has none of the nasal power of soulsberry’s Ishizuka Tomohiko, Art-School’s Kinoshita Riki or Suneo Hair.

It’s just an appealing, clear, emotional voice. But it’s enough to lure a listener into Remioromen’s pop-ready indie songwriting.

About the only misstep on the band’s major label debut, Asagao, is the disco beat at the start of “Mame Denkyu”. (That’s so Glay.) The rest of the album is pretty damn catchy.

“Himekuri Calendar” and the title track bears the influence of Brian Wilson and the Beatles without actually having to evoke either one. If Fujimaki screamed and unleashed a larger guitar sound on “Shoowa”, it would sound a lot more like the Back Horn.

“Ameagari”, “Sukimakaze” and “Festa” show the band aren’t stuck in midtempo; in fact, they sound better doing the fast.

And the slow burning single, “Denwa”, has a chorus that flexes the full capacity of Fujimaki’s lungs.

Still, there something perplexing about Remioromen. On the one hand, it’s evident the band can play fast and loose as the aforementioned Back Horn or Art-School. And there’s a sense Remioromen can give labelmates Quruli a run for the money when it comes to songcraft.

But the fact Remioromen doesn’t sound closely related to any of those bands is an asset as well. It makes the comparrison game — which is handy for reviewers — all the more difficult.

Also, Asagao is one slick recording. It possesses a studio finesse that puts it closer to L’Arc~en~Ciel than to Number Girl.

In essence, Remioromen falls smack in the middle of the rock spectrum — tuneful enough not to be pandering, hard enough not to be overboard.

Something so balanced usually ends up being bland, but factor in the hook-writing skills, and Remioromen end up being a sure but safe bet.

There’s still a lot of room for this band to grow, but it sure is starting at a pretty good spot.