Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Boris: Attention Please (2011)


Yes, more Japanese music featuring a girl. Released right around the same time. Weird.

Ah, Boris. The incredibly prolific Japanese band is more adventurous than anyone else that's been called a metal band. The fact they succeed so often at so many different things is perhaps the reason they have such a loyal following.

So, why not do a pop album?

Attention PleaseAttention Please is not metal. Where there are guitars, they are mostly pushed to the background, either playing simple melodies or giving atmospheric squeals. The bass and drums are also understated, tending toward pop rhythms or absolute minimalism. Front-and-center on this album is the vocal work of Wata, whose tiny, accented voice is incredibly enchanting.

If you've quarantined yourself from the radio since the 90's (I've been mostly successful at this), you probably associate the term "pop" with NSYNC and Brittney Spears. If you've fallen victim to current radio, you probably think "pop" and "hip hop" are synonymous. But this is neither. Instead, it's what they call dream pop. Not being an expert (or even moderately familiar with the concept), I'll just pull straight from Wikipedia:
The essence of [dream pop] is a focus on ethereal textures and moods, rather than on propulsive rock riffs. Breathy, high-register female vocals or almost whispered male vocals are usually the means of lyrical delivery; lyrics are generally introspective and existential in nature. Cover art tends to consist of blurry pastel imagery and/or stark minimalist designs.
Ambient pop music is right up Boris's alley.

But there is always more than one side to a Boris album. There's also the alternative rock of "Hope" and "Spoon". There are a couple of curveballs as well. "Party Boy" actually does sound like sludge metal, though understated and with a catchy vocal melody providing the hook. And "Les Paul Custom '86" almost sounds like nu metal if it weren't for the distinctly Japanese vocals.

The Verdict There's enough here that works to make it worth checking out, for the insatiably curious. But for the most part this is recommended to Boris fans only. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.