Shoegaze has often been a creative platform in which to convey a distinctive character in the Japanese music scene. Tokyo band Sugardrop stimulates an instantly recognisable nostalgic sound world that from a first listen, one may mistake them for a classic indie rock band from the West.

‘Love Scene’ captures to great magnitude the characteristic ‘wall of sound’ aesthetics of shoegaze. Clamouring distortion, dronal effects, jangling guitar harmonies and hazy vocals echo Western precursors like The Jesus and Mary Chain, but simultaneously the pulsating drums offset the fuzzy backdrop and thrusts a garage rock propulsion that boosts the sonic energy and makes it an enticing listen.

Equally effective is the liberal atmosphere of ‘Girl Friend’. The track embraces a rowdy textural universe full of crashing drums and guitar distortion, while the introspective quality of the vocal melody counters the vitality of the voltage-laden backdrop with a breath of chilling air. It is an interesting experience where the track is engaged in full of verve, but at the same time one can trace a slight vulnerability or serenity particularly from the vocals.

Sugardrop’s ability to inject a touch of ethereal sonic ideas in a dynamic alt-rock idiom is encapsulated in ‘Paranoid Girl’. The energy stirred up from electric guitar harmonies blasted through masses of warped effects and the tumultuous rhythms and percussive timbres from the drums are in a quality and level of its own. However, filtering the whole track is this shimmering nostalgia from the misty vocal presence and the overall production, resulting in a sound world that is both catchy and eccentric.

It is clear that the cultural impact of shoegaze in Japan is of great significance, and with the likes of Sugardrop sustaining its importance, the future of shoegaze is in good hands.

Other Listening:

  • 1,2,3,4,5
  • You Need Someone
  • Aoi
  • Walking On The Light

© Isaku Takahashi