halfjapanese

The DIY anti-pop of Half Japanese is essential amateurism, especially when it takes happiness and joy as its predominant focus. ‘On ‘Overjoyed’, the group’s first album in 13 years – their fourteenth since forming in 1975 – Jad Fair (the longtime founder member and lead vocalist for nigh on 40 years) and Co’s approximation is like an infantile grin with missing teeth; upfront, unashamed and convinced in its course. For much of the LP the band are engaged in buoyant hyperventilation, collectively punching the air as if recreating their own Breakfast Club ending for lovelorn washouts.

Influences are traceable but Half Japanese’s victory is still their own. The delight’s almost unimpeachable; a kind of low-rent love. Though it’s rarely one-dimensional. On ‘Do It Nation’ a hijacked megaphone seems to be the method of amplification; bellowed are demented, static-strewn squalls. Sonar-like echo and reach inflects the guitars on ‘Meant to Be That Way’ and ‘Brave Enough’ breaks the expected mould with infectious, polyrhythmic percussion. Here, delight is expansive.

With raucous ‘self-help’, strange, cartoonish romance, and occasional experimentation, Half Japanese  attain a ramshackle joy, antithetical to a clinical, emulsified currency and wholly genuine. This is what happiness sounds like for the messy and vanquished; bedraggled but authentically jubilant.

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