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Half Japanese | Overjoyed | Album Review - Live And Die In Music

Ask anyone the question “What decade do you wish you were around for?” and you’ll get all kinds of answers. For me personally, though I was born in the early 90s, I wish I was older at that stage, simply so I could have appreciated the music that came along at the time that wasn’t the Spice Girls or Boyzone. Unfortunately, I cannot look back on the grunge era and think about all the fun I had in high waist ripped jeans and plaid shirts at crazy gigs and the occasional rave. Rather I look back on those years with regard to the Lego towers I built and the sweets I’d be allowed on a Saturday night before the Big Big Movie started. If time travel is invented while I’m still alive, I’ll be going back to the late 80s and staying there. Although time travel hasn’t been invented yet, alt-rock group Half Japanese have invented a new LP, for the first time in thirteen years, ‘Overjoyed’, that makes it feel like the genre I love has not died, but has been reborn in a beautifully modern, yet nostalgic way. Here are all the reasons why I believe you should go out and buy it – like, right now.

How should I describe ‘Overjoyed’ other than pure awesome? Well, for one thing it’s beautifully minimalist in some ways and in others is the biggest juxtaposition of all the noises, ever. It’s incredibly disjointed, however in the best possible way, like Sonic Youth’s ‘Dirty’. It’s a sound which left me not really knowing what was happening, but at the same time made perfect sense. It captured something, a feeling, some strange emotion, almost like the whole LP is some expressionist painting that was recorded, if that could possibly make sense.
The tracks themselves as a whole were all incredibly varied, yet at the same time did not stray from a particular sound that can only be described as theirs. At times it’s quite upbeat and psychedelic in its nature like with the fifth track ‘The Time is Now’, whilst still having a grungy feel. At other points the tracks are melancholy, for example; track eight, ‘Each Others Arms’ makes me think it belonged in an early Tim Burton film, but was cut out for being too bad ass.

The albums experimental use with regard to the instrumental side of things cannot go unnoticed, as I may well have suggested earlier, it’s all over the place, whilst going together perfectly. The best example being found in track nine, ‘Overjoyed and Thankful’ with scales on heavy bass being clashed, yet complimented by the fast paced rhythm of the guitar, along with percussion just going a bit crazy. It’s all over the place, but it works.
The simplicity of the lyrics complimented by the psychedelic-noise of the instrumental side of things, which creates something that can be considered almost nostalgic. As a whole it sort of sounds like hearing the contents of a sixteen year olds diary in its minimalist genius. It’s rare to hear something so fresh that holds such deeps roots in a genre people seem to be afraid to recreate these days. Everyone claims to be inspired by the experimental/grungy sound of the 90s, from 30 Seconds to Mars to Lana Del Rey. However it’s great to see new music that isn’t just influenced by that period but is genuinely the sound of that period that I have missed. Sure, Half Japanese are from that wonderful time of music, but it’s great to see that it’s still being created unapologetically, rather than elements of it being evident, but has been modernised needlessly. ‘Overjoyed’ is like listening to something that had been left in a time capsule in the mid-nineties before anyone had the chance to hear it, and because of that I have to give it a very respectable four stars out of five.
Miss the messy, perfect sound of 90s alt-rock? Or missed out on it at the time? Checkout Half Japanese’s ‘Overjoyed’ ASAP, you won’t be disappointed.