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Friday, July 10, 2015

Boris: Attention Please

BORIS: ATTENTION PLEASE (2011)

1) Attention Please; 2) Hope; 3) Party Boy; 4) See You Next Week; 5) Tokyo Wonder Land; 6) You; 7) Aileron; 8) Les Paul Custom '86; 9) Spoon; 10) Hand In Hand.

The point of this third album released in the same year (in fact, on the same day as Heavy Rocks) sort of escapes me. New Album was their attempt to prove themselves in the J-pop sphere, and Heavy Rocks was a reminder that production is only skin deep, and the substantial difference between J-pop and heavy metal may be much less than one thinks. In comparison, Attention Please is more scattered and less explicit — although I guess that, with a little effort, it could be categorized as their «shoegaze album», or, at least, their «dark, moody, brooding art-pop album». It is much less heavy than Heavy Rocks, much less nipponistically irritating than New Album, but, on the whole, less striking than either of those two.

Like Rocks, this one also shares several (three) remixed songs with New Album, but this time, the differences are mainly cosmetic — ʽHopeʼ, ʽParty Boyʼ, and ʽSpoonʼ are all stripped of some of their electronic layers and receive additional noisy guitar overdubs, bringing them closer to «shoegaze» territory, but not necessarily making them any better. Amusingly, the new fuzzy bass­line that they gave ʽParty Boyʼ has made the song rhythmically similar to Arcade Fire's ʽRe­bellion (Lies)ʼ; however, it still largely feels like a deconstructed version of the original, only open to true appreciation if you are already a fan of its ancestral technostate. The new versions of ʽHopeʼ and ʽSpoonʼ are even less different.

There are some decent new experiences here, though, if you are still interested. The title track is an imaginative piece of «psycho-disco», if you can get past the heavy Japanese accent on the mystically, but clumsily, chanted "attention puh-rease" — the sprinkly electronics and the slow fireplace crackle of «woman tone-guitar» in the background create some suspense, and could even be called «haunting» if you let yourself get carried away. ʽTokyo Wonder Landʼ (as if we didn't know already) has some cool industrial-propulsive percussion and a nicely thought out «chimes / funky guitar» combination running in the background for most of its time. And ʽAileronʼ, sharing its title, but not its instrumentation or mood with the huge post-rock epic from the last record, is actually a pretty, if not outstanding, acoustic folk instrumental.

However, one other area where Boris probably have nothing to pick up is «dream-pop»: tracks like ʽYouʼ and ʽHand In Handʼ show that Wata is getting more and more self-confidence as a singer, but I am not sure if this is deserved — she is not a strong singer technically, her voice is not high enough to work proper «dream magic», and the very fact that she is singing in the beau­ti­ful Japanese language is hardly sufficient these days to make anybody melt in overexcitement. As a result, both these tracks also produce the impression of «failed imitations», and a failure to imitate always comes across as much more embarrassing than a failure to innovate.

Summing up... well, three albums per year is a little too much, especially when coming from a former noise-band who could easily fill up fifty albums of noise per year if it wanted to, but for some reason decided to prove itself in a wide variety of genres all at once. What they should pro­bably have done instead would be one, and no more than one, regular heavy metal album with touches of psychedelia — a Heavy Rocks purged of its «post-rock ambitions». As it is, this filler is in some ways instructive (in the «don't do that, kids» manner) and sometimes amusing for one listen, but I honestly hope not a lot of people will want to mistake it for «art».

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