Japanese Wallpaper's 'Quirky Dream-Pop' Debut Album Is Worth The Wait

18 October 2019 | 11:41 am | The Music Team

Finding new music each week is easy but actually figuring out what to listen to can be a little overwhelming. 'The Music' team is here to help, today launching our Album Of The Week. Taking the inaugural place is Japanese Wallpaper and his debut album, 'Glow'.

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For an artist that is so well-known, it's a bit of a shock to realise that Gabriel Strum aka Japanese Wallpaper's Glow is actually his first LP.

Since breaking through as triple j's 2014 Unearthed High winner, Strum has gone on to have his music featured in Zach Braff's film Wish I Was Here, tour with Lily Allen and become a highly sought after collaborator. 

What we're saying... 

Review by Rod Whitfield

"There is plenty of good pop music around at the moment, it’s just that almost none of it is in the mainstream. You have to peer well beyond what’s being played on commercial radio to find true pop gems these days.

And if you peer far enough, you’ll find this little Aussie wonder. For the uninitiated, Japanese Wallpaper is essentially one guy, Gabriel Strum. His debut, Glow, is quirky dream-pop – it's catchy and breezy, although slightly more languid in tone/pace at times (Ready/Waiting, Cocoon), and this juxtaposition gives this record a dynamic, multi-dimensional vibe.

That said, this record is at its absolute best when in its up-tempo mode (Caving In, Imaginary Friends). In these moments, the album puts a big, fat smile on your face, and makes you feel glad to be alive. In its more downbeat moments, it lulls the listener into a sweet and melancholy reverie (especially the title track, which also closes proceedings).

Bands like this prove that in the right hands pop music can be interesting and immersive, as well as full of catchy hooks that stay with you for long moments after. In a perfect world, this is what would be on high rotation on mainstream radio the world over."

What they're saying...
Here's what Strum told Cyclone ahead of Glow's release. 

On working with US producer Ben H Allen
"He's someone who's made a lot of my favourite records in the world and whose name I just kept seeing in the liner notes of people that I've been kinda falling in love with over the last few years."

"A lot of what a producer brings to a project is just a fresh pair of ears and a kind of objectivity that is really hard to have as a songwriter and a singer. And so, while I feel like I'm a capable producer and I've been working in that realm for a bunch of other people, it was the kind of thing where I didn't really feel like I was able to bring that fresh perspective to the music that I've been sitting with for so long." 

On his sound
"I feel really positive about the evolution of this project," Strum says. "The thing that keeps it exciting for me, and is ultimately rewarding in it, is just the idea of searching for something, as opposed to feeling like you know everything about the thing that you're trying to do." 

"It definitely is a vehicle for expressing my emotions and my headspace and all that stuff," he says. "There's no big, overarching concept to the album, but rather it's capturing a moment in my life." 

On working with Lily Allen & Mallrat
"[It was] a really great experience. Both Lily and Grace [Shaw, aka Mallrat] are really generous and amazing people and great to be on tour with. Both of their fan[base]s are just awesome and really open to hearing new stuff. It was dope. We've had a really great run of support shows this year."

On what's next
"I actually have been writing a little bit with Tom [Gaynor, aka Allday] for maybe a new Japanese Wallpaper record as well."

Read the full interview here.

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Glow is out today, listen to it above. Looking for more new music? Check out this week's releases.