Japanese fascination towards Western popular music went to greater heights when the ‘Shibuya-kei’ trend hit Japanese popular culture. Its legacy may still be glistening, as it is the late 80s/early 90s British ‘Madchester’ scene that captures the inspiration for the band from Fukuoka prefecture, HEARSAYS.

Their music echoes the classic guitar-driven anthems of ‘Brit-pop’ bands (Oasis, Lush, Blur and Radiohead to name a few). The timeless appeal of simple, jangly guitar riffs launch tunes like ‘The Blind’ and ‘You Couldn’t Do So Much Better’ into a sound world that seems to occupy a place in indie rock’s golden generation, with whispers of surf-rock guitar nuances. To add to this, one could discern a subtle hint of shoegaze aesthetics from the introspective, non-confrontational nature of the vocals, in contrast to the rebellious character of British middle-class bands.

By stripping back the political actions that traditional British indie rock entails, the quartet focus on creating a musical atmosphere that invites the listener into meditation. ‘A Little Bird Told Me’ has plentiful to cleanse any audible space with delicate vocal lines and daydreaming guitar melodies that grace the comforting country vibe. While this track may resonate more towards American country rock, it still indulges in feelings of sentimentality, with lyrics like:

“Sometimes the sun is shining till I’m meant to be near you”

There is also a sense that HEARSAYS have the creative capacity to paint seasonal pictures with sonorities. As I listen to ‘When I’m Wrong’, the distorted groovy guitars scream Californian surf culture, and my audible perception instantly transforms the music into a visual landscape where cars would ride across a highway while embracing a warm and bright sunset slowly dipping into the beach.

HEARSAYS’ musical adventure is still in its infancy, but they are one to keep an eye on. Not only do they act as a tribute to their Western influences, but they also champion indie pop’s healthy existence in the present-day conversation of popular music in Japan.

Other Listening:

  • Missing
  • Stay
  • Before Too Long

© Isaku Takahashi