New Band of the Day #206: Hitsujibungaku

Who: Haiji, Fukkuu, Wako

What: Indie Rock

Where: Tokyo, Japan, Setagaya Ward

Why: Every year the core ideas and presentations of indie rock morph and distort. Anthems of disinterest and sedition gave way to songs about romantic despair and existential longing, eventually leading us to the identity and sonic focused songwriting of indie-rock circa-2018. Some things really don’t change though. At the core of it all that bratty 20’s malaise and pursuit of purpose never dates itself, and remains entrenched into the core of the genre’s sound.

Indie-rock still favors anthemic vocals that push for meaning, and for guitar melodies that are equal parts forceful and catchy. Every year we may feel a sense of starry-eyed belief overwhelm us into thinking that indie-rock is becoming something new, but we must also struggle with the fact that it won’t ever really change. Unfortunately artists like Hitsujibungaku only make it more difficult when they make their red-blooded argument that it may never need to. Within the playground of indie-rock which we had thought was so fully exhausted, new artists always seem to find new gold. And let me promise you, Hitsujinbungaku’s new album Dear Youths, is gold. It might not be a new Slanted & Enchanted, or Doolittle, but just like those albums there are power ballads here worth clenching your fist and crying into your twin mattress sheets for.

Across these 11 tracks Hitsujibungaku manage a batting average worth every and any comparison to western contemporary female indie rockers. A headlining act of Soccer Mommy + Hitsujibungaku might even lean in their favor as the genuinely propulsive energy of their pop numbers feels concert designed. A nice juxtaposition to the sparse and distant sounds our female indie rock revelation has leaned towards here in the west. Where Soccer Mommy writes songs about wanting to bloom in her own skin, and find love that can make her blossom, Hitsujibungaku feel like they are sunflowers at the height of their color.

After a series of three EPs that had promised us the world Dear Youths, stands like an ideological promise. A promise that Japan won’t let indie rock pass into the night. That within these aging walls there are still words worth saying and songs worth writing. Or I guess riffs worth licking.