The rather unusual façade of the band name BUMP OF CHICKEN belies their ‘feel-good’ pop sensibility, but perhaps speaks for their original rock personality. With a lead vocalist (Fujiwara Motoo) showing glimpses of Radiohead, a band spirit whose energy mirrors the likes of U2, and sensational music that embraces various genres from punk to indie (even with a few electronic embellishments), the Japanese music world is rocked by their individual force of personality.

The Chiba prefecture born band’s first big hit 天体観測 ‘Tentai Kansoku’ (‘Astronomical observation’) provided a solid introduction to their indie and punk origins, accented by the song’s treadmill propulsion from the guitars and drums. While the track and vocal melody lacks the confrontational nature of the genres, instead they invest in a classic rock idiom to stir up an inviting lively atmosphere.

In comparison, BUMP OF CHICKEN’s 友達の唄 ‘Tomodachi no Uta’ (‘A Friend’s Song) and ‘You Were Here’ has the foundations to echo the anthemic rock ballad quality of British bands such as Keane, particularly the way in which both bands inherit an ‘almost-epic’ status. While the driving rhythm section and grand orchestration of ‘Tomodachi no Uta’ has the musical voltage to light up the atmosphere to a stadium magnitude, the emotional resonance of ‘You Were Here’ retains a sense of affinity with the listeners, similar to the way Keane makes the perfect balance between the two characters.

Their recent hits including ‘ray’ have seen them enhance their rock palette with the subtle use of synths and other forms of electronic embellishments. ‘ray’ exists in two versions, one of which features the vocaloid personality Hatsune Miku. With or without Hatsune’s support, the song glorifies in its positive indie pop vibe, and is further pronounced through the inclusion of bubbly synth arpeggios that introduces and concludes the tune, and a chorus melody that is amplified with a subtle layer of vocoder decorations.

In my opinion, there is no standout track by BUMP OF CHICKEN that draws the spotlight away from other songs. Every song in the quartet’s canon carries an exuberant vibe that is all as effective as each other.

Other Listening:

  • Hello, world!
  • Happy
  • Supernova
  • カルマ Karma

© Isaku Takahashi