Electronica is one of those genres that you either like or don’t; my own relationship with it has developed over the last few years from passive listener to ecstatic fan. Having released their sophomore album, “Controlling Your Allegiance” (9 March 2011 in the UK, 21 June 2011 in the USA), The Japanese Popstars are serving up house oriented electronic music that is accessible enough for anyone to have an introduction to the genre, yet substantial for those of us who are really into electronica. Hailing from Northern Ireland, The Japanese Popstars are the trio of Gary Curran, Gareth Donoghue, and Decky Hedrock, and what they have produced is so addictive that even my parents are dancing to it, and they’re old!
The lead single, “Destroy” (featuring Jon Spencer) is a song that I was on the fence with when I first heard it. The combination of Jon Spencer’s monotone voice, the aggressive electronic bass, and the syncopated beat was a bit abrasive, but somehow, it works. There was nothing to overpower the parts of where Spencer was singing, just these little “dink dink dink” sounds that came after three seconds of his last word. You see, it was not the harsh combination that makes the song, but little details like these sounds. They took the time to make sure that the music was enjoyable, while allowing the lyrics still stood out from everything else.
I don’t know how much simpler a song can be than “Let’s Go” (featuring Green Velvet). A constant drumbeat, that one can easily follow using their two pointer fingers pretending that they are drumsticks, a two-chord progression from the guitar and simple enough lyrics make for a song that is easy to get into. Is it any wonder that this was the second single?
And if any DJ is reading this, “Songs for Lisa” (featuring Lisa Hannigan) is a song you should consider incorporating into your set. With Hannigan's beautiful voice behind the microphone, this song will definitely be hypnotic to the masses on the dance floor. Multilayered, constantly playing with the different volumes within the different arrangements, this track will take people dancing on the floor or mucking about in a lounge into new euphoria.
In honor of BBC’s Top Gear … Some say that he cuts his hair and wears no make-up when not on tour, and some say that the reason why he wears black almost all the time is because it is the closest thing he will wear to tie dye, all we know…He’s Robert Smith. Smith makes an appearance on the album. He has done quite a few appearances in the recent past (I know, a specific blogger keeps making me listen to it all!). But this collaboration is a treat! This Robert Smith is out of his element … completely! Even though the guitar playing boasts Smith's traditional pop sensibility, this is the closest you get to The Cure sound from the King of Mope. Singing to this electronic dance song takes Smith in a different, new (vibrant, dare I say) vocal style. And though you expected him to collaborate with the likes of Crystal Castles (fellow Fiction label band), 65daysofstatic (who toured with The Cure extensively), and even with legendary DJs Blank and Jones, to hear Smith work along side this pretty much nascent band is quite amazing.
Accessible, danceable, and Robert Smith – what other reason do you need to check out The Japanese Popstars’ “Controlling You Allegience”? Just in case this isn’t enough, Tom Smith of Editors closes out the album! Now you have to listen.
1. Let Go, featuring Green Velvet
3. Songs For Lisa, featuring Lisa Hannigan
4. Tomorrow Man
5. Take Forever, featuring Robert Smith
6. Fight the Night, featuring Morgan Kibby
7. Our Building Block
8. Destroy, featuring Jon Spencer
9. Shells of Sliver, featuring James Vincent McMorrow
10. Without Sounds, featuring Dot JR
11. Falcon Punch
12. Joshua, featuring Tom Smith
Keep up with The Japanese Popstars at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.
Here are the four videos. The first is “Destroy” from the emimusic YouTube Channel. Then “Let Go,” “Song for Lisa,” and “Joshua” from TheJapanesePopstVEVO YouTube Channel.