Polkadot Stingray – Dai seigi

review - 11.02.2017 20:01

Up-and-coming Fukuokan quartet Polkadot Stingray make a colourful splash with their debut mini-album.

Fukuoka-based four-piece Polkadot Stingray formed in 2015 and in a short space of time, have already generated a considerable amount of word-of-mouth and internet buzz. They began attracting wider attention with their second single, Telecaster Stripe, a gleeful slice of indie guitar pop magic, and now the fast-rising band have released their first mini-album, Dai seigi, with a digital version also available internationally.

They've described themselves as a "supernatural high-colour guitar rock band", although some have tagged them as ‘math rock’, based on their intricate guitar work and fondness for changing rhythm mid-song. Whilst the collection of songs on this new mini-album isn’t as ‘math’ as some tracks on their previous Honenuki E.P., it still has its fair share of off-kilter and slightly unconventional moments.

The album’s lead single, Electric Public, is an indie guitar pop banger in the same vein as Telecaster Stripe, highlighted by a couple of snappy guitar solos from Harushi Ejima. The song sprints by with verve and energy and before you know it, it’s all over and you’re reaching for the ‘back’ button. Hiromi ‘hirohiro’ Sagane of Kyoto math-rockers Tricot plays bass on this track, as well as on Synchronisica, ably standing in for the band’s bassist Yuuki Uemura who had been injured in a bicycle accident.

Igarashi from Hitoire takes over bass duties on the next track, Midori. The song’s unpredictable vocal melody gives singer-guitarist Shizuku the chance to explore her full range, sliding between high and low registers with ease. At one point, she cracks into a giggle, but this only adds to the charm.

Syncronisica’s crashing, discordant intro gives way to Harushi’s rapid-fire funk guitar riff that sends the song rattling along at breakneck speed, matched by hirohiro who lays down an impressive groove. It’s an exhilarating ride and just when you think the song is finished, drawing slowly to a stop, the bass kicks in and we’re off again for one final flying lap.

A rain-soaked intro sets the tone for the melancholic Benikurage. Shizuku puts in an astonishingly expressive vocal performance, ranging from a breathless whisper to stridently belting out her lines, by the end her voice is hoarse and ragged with emotion.

The mood brightens to finish with Early Dawn, a frisky and upbeat number, driven on by Kazuma Mitsuyasu’s urgent, tricksy drumming and more snazzy guitar work from Ejima. With five tracks running at a brisk twenty minutes, this mini-album is barely more than an EP, and the last song's abrupt end leaves you wanting more. It’s a minor disappointment that international fans miss out on the bonus track included on the Japanese CD version: a reworking of the band’s earlier songs, Yoake no Orange.

Though short and sweet, there are plenty of sparky performances to enjoy here, particularly from the lead guitarist, but the real star is singer Shizuku. In these days of ubiquitous auto-tune, the vocals are given a light touch production, allowing her distinctive voice to shine through, complete with all its stylish idiosyncrasies. She throws in gasps, cheeky growls, Shiina Ringo-style rolled r’s and drops her t’s from the English lyrics like a true Londoner (possibly a habit she picked up while studying in the UK). With their charismatic lead singer, catchy tunes and sharp musical skills, Polkadot Stingray are clearly a band going places fast. Get on board for the ride now.

Dai seigei is available for download from Amazon, Google Play and iTunes.
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