Album Review: Tenniscoats - All Aboard!

1 July 2012 | 2:30 pm | Doug Wallen

Curdled psychedelic weirdness.

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Having collaborated with The Pastels and Jad Fair in recent years, Japan's long-running Tenniscoats tend to immerse themselves in psychedelic pop that's as likely to feel primitive as it is pastoral. It also has woodsy folk tendencies. Here, though, the usually drum-less duo of singer/keyboardist Saya and guitarist/bassist Ueno Takashi team with veteran drummer Ikuro Takahashi (High Rise, Fushitsusha) for an album recorded between 2005 and 2009 by Australian expat Richard Horner.

Takahashi's rhythmic presence lends a strong Krautrock pull to tracks like Hoochi Chikoo Man (featuring a bit of English vocals with lyrics by Horner) and Shinjitsu Pan (translation: “truth bread”), the latter reprised to great effect near the album's end. But this is still Tenniscoats all the way, with a twee streak running through the drowsy opener Korogari Mario and the perfectly executed highlight Simple Re.

That said, Takashi's unrestrained guitar playing offsets the rest of the twinkling instrumentation and the sheer cuteness of Saya's singing (the Japanese lyrics are translated to English on the sleeve). The cute whistling on Mosha Mosha Mo comes coupled with bristling distortion, while vaguely creepy guitar passages on Stories In The Boot recall Blonde Redhead and the trippy guitar cycling beneath the otherwise inconsequential closer 20arms makes it absolutely worthwhile.

The song that best typifies All Aboard! is the ten-minute Yume Wa Sukkiri, a quietly droning lullaby that I'd be happy to have go on forever. Of course, the same goes for this album as a whole. It lives up to the bright clots of colour on the album cover while offering quite a lot of curdled psychedelic weirdness at the same time.

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