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Music Review: The Japanese Popstars – We Just Are

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Devastating and gorgeous all at once, The Japanese PopstarsWe Just Are is one of the most enthralling records of the year. Much in the same way Bristol’s Fuck Buttons unloaded obliterating noise on one of the best albums of 2008, Street Horrrsing, The Japanese Popstars have similar ferocity in their approach to the ultimate purity of sound.

Based out of Derry, Northern Ireland, The Japanese Popstars are three vastly talented DJs. Gareth Donoghue, Declan McLaughlin, and Gary Curran amassed their skills into one collective after playing together and performing at a variety of music festivals to much critical acclaim.

Part of what makes We Just Are, the trio’s debut, work so superbly is the approach. Every song crackles with a cuff of electronic righteousness and the punctuation of drum-and-bass accents. Noises blast out from beneath the covers, forming thunderous segments of music with mesmerizing production.

“Face Melter” does exactly what the title suggests, providing a skin-liquefying cocktail of clanging clatter, rave beats, and rolling energy. The sound swells, staggeringly stops, and toys with standards of formation with a deformed upper level and serenity-testing synth sure to blow a few speakers.

The broad-shouldered “Sample Whore” rides a wave of scathing white noise into a collapse of orgasmic ecstasy, using malformed delight as a beat and carving out a vital bulge that builds until the unavoidable culmination when everything is washed away in a flourish of speckled sound.

Tracks like “B.C.T.T.” and “Anthepic: We Have Taken Over” are rock-hard near-ambient tunes that spread out magically like flowers set to greet a summer’s day. “The Smile” ignites similarities with the likes of Orbital and Underworld.

Ultimately, The Japanese Popstars have crafted a charitable spell of stunning music. Their range as a group is palpable, with equal parts reverence and genre-bending grandeur coursing through We Just Are. There is no beat the trio will not play with and no ground they will not break the fuck open.

“Rise of Ulysses” is an outrageous track with a brilliant synth whine and enough starts-and-stops to mystify a traffic cop. And “F19B (Droppin’ Bombs)” is hell-bent on taxing eardrums with cyclic splatter.

The debut album from The Japanese Popstars is a monster. A brute to be reckoned with for tent-dwelling ravesters and a chillingly intricate piece of music for the rest of us, We Just Are introduces the onset of this trio of DJs with pageantry, edge, ferociousness, and magnificence.

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