Lying awake

Kicell’s first full-length album was titled Yume, which means “dream” in Japanese. And it was an appropriate word to describe the brother duo’s ethereal music.

Kicell’s third album, Mado ni Chikyuu (“window to the earth”), could also have been titled Okiru, which means “to wake up”.

The lush but sparse sound Kicell crafted on its first two albums give way to more concerte songwriting.

It’s also the band’ strongest album to date.

In the past, Kicell would take a lot of different timbres but meticulously arrange the music so the texture would remain open. This time, the brothers are willing to lay it all out.

“Yume no Tegami” uses a real backbeat during its chorus. “Yawaraka na Oka” feels grandiose without actually having to get too cluttered or too loud. And while “Umi Neko to Teishokuya” may include harp, toy piano and strings, the song focuses on the brothers’ dual guitar work.

The songs on Mado ni Chikyuu are faster as well. Kicell loves to write in a slow or medium tempo, often at the expense of momentum.

“Tokage Hashiru”, “Enola Gay” and “Kagi no Kai” offer a boost to the album which previous works overlooked.

It’s on these faster tracks that the brothers hold back on texture — “Enola Gay” is the closest thing Kicell has to a genuine rock song, the errant flute and trombone notwithstanding.

The tighter arrangements, coupled with more varied songs, makes Mado ni Chikyuu Kicell’s most accessbile album.

The haziness of the band’s past work clears up on this album, but it never totally dissipates.