But what better way to revive the glorious days of “less is more” mantra than with a garage-rock record articulating romantic frustrations in the most frivolous and enjoyable way possible. Gaijin’s new album, Sunday Kodama imposes these conventions with a goddamn Spaghetti Western-feel and poetic songwriting. They rock at a controlled volume without trooping on weirder, outsider sensibilities, yet they still manage to play around catchy, two-chord riffs and indelible pop hooks that have loose, wandering qualities to it.
Track opener “Gintong Sala” seems eager to fill the stereo space with an ambient guitar jam resembling the perfect score to a Texan thriller set somewhere in the dusting roads of nowhere, with its sparse, trad blues instrumentation stretching over quiet tension and snoozer honky-tonk. It jumpstarts the mood of the album into the introspective territory, eventually giving breathing space to catchy stompers “Just Like This” and “Monster Ball,” both of which grounded in classic rock and post-punk grit, mining ragged sounds that make greatness sound so easy and effortless.
Gaijin’s brand of slacker love anthems is in lean fighting form all throughout the record and it’s impressive to hear the band take this element a little further into the dirtier side of the pit, with the same vital, driving energy and earnestness heard in the way they render songs into high octane live performances. In what could be their best songs to date, “Soft Spoken” and “Parachutes” invest on this strength by combining solid pop songcraft with raw-powered riffage and hard-hitting drums, keeping the momentum fleeting as it rolls against the tides of time.
There’s a timeless quality in Sunday Kodoma that felt widely misplaced in an era dominated by manufactured pop machines and eccentric chiptunesmithery about to rule the world in a single mouse click. The way they rehash rock n’ roll at the wrong place and time, within the confines of bruised guitars and skins, makes the entire effort a bold act in itself. Sunday Kodoma might sound old school to some, but it’s is just too good and addicting to be missed out. Don’t say you weren’t warned. B+