Tuned in

Eclecticism has always been an important component to Quruli’s sound, but it’s often gotten in the way of the band’s songwriting as it has helped it.

On Team Rock and Zukan, the band veered between four-on-the-floor beats and rocking guitars. Perhaps the most unwieldy exercise of eclecticism can be found on 2002’s The World Is Mine.

Although dark and experimental, the almost ambient album was ultimately inaccessible.

With Antenna, Quruli has gone the other extreme and focused entirely on songcraft — and it’s succeeded.

Antenna is the most coherent album Quruli has recorded yet. Instead of leaping from quirk to quirk, the band instead hammers out one solid guitar-driven song after another.

If anything, there’s a decidedly Celtic feel to most of the songs. “Race” cleverly manages to find a common ground between lilting Celtic rhtyhms and the pentatonic contours of Japanese melodies.

“Morning Paper” veers between drone-like chords and a rock backbeat.

Other times, the band goes for some blues-styled grit without quite indulging in the blues itself. “Home Town” is pretty rugged, while the marching rhythm of “Hana no Mizudeppou” feels distantly folky.

In fact, a lot of cultural cross-pollenation happens on Antenna — it’s never too clear whether you’re listening to something inherently Japanese or European or American.

“Bandwagon”, though, is pretty blatant about being a folk-rock song.

While Antenna may Quruli’s most clever album, it unfortunately lacks something its previous albums didn’t neglect — strong singles.

“Rock ‘n’ Roll” is pretty much the only real single on the album, although the alternate take of “How to Go” sounds far better than the single version released in 2003.

But don’t expect anything on Antenna to rival “Tokyo”, “Wandervogel” or “World’s End Supernova”.

Still, Antenna is Quruli’s strongest album to date. It may not be the catchiest, but it’s definitely the most focused.