BAND: Daiei Spray (Japan)
RELEASE: Behind The Wall (2020)
LABEL: Debauch Mood Records
REVIEWER: Arthur Urquiola
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When Daiei Spray’s first official record ‘Isn’t Brazing’ was released in 2017, the band had already been around since 2004. The fact that the Tokyo-based quartet self-released the 10-inch on their own label rooted it firmly in the DIY tradition. But taking the reigns on their record, coupled with regular lineup changes, meant that even after a decade-plus in the making and as impactful as the songs were, the band was only able to muster up seven tracks for their first outing. This didn’t stop them from building their name off of those songs and taking their passionate live shows to cities across the region.
Three years later, ‘Behind The Wall’ is definitely a more comprehensive work with 12 tracks and a 38-minute runtime. Starting off with a brief percussion sample, ‘Endure’ is a mid-tempo but persistent stomp with aggressively barked verses, building towards the first of the record’s many triumphant choruses which stand alongside songs by HDQ, Dag Nasty and other DC Hardcore groups Daiei Spray have been compared to in the past.
Despite parallels regularly being drawn between Daiei Spray and DC Hardcore-inspired Punk Rock bands from 20 – 30 years ago, there are instances such as the syncopated rhythm churning through ‘Overdone’ that place ‘Behind The Wall’ alongside more contemporary records. The dramatic shifts between the off-beat jittering and a halftime crescendo worthy of a Jawbreaker chorus show that the band has more to offer than catering to fans of Hardcore who miss, or missed out on, the years that Punk broke in the ’90s.
‘Distorted’ is a shorter, sharper melodic Hardcore attack in the vein of Strike Anywhere, but has a feel just as familiar to anyone who enjoyed Garlic Boys’ ‘Ten’ record. ‘Annoyance’ starts in a similar vein with cleaner verses, but it ultimately ends up having one of the longer run times among this latest batch of tunes. Along with ‘Alive’ which follows after, both are substantial pieces comparable to Caution-era Hot Water Music and other groups which filled the gap between late-’80s Hardcore and more expansive Post-Hardcore groups that embraced melody over the trend among their contemporaries to tune their guitars lower and incorporate metallic elements and increasingly heavy breakdowns. ‘Alive’ takes an abrupt left turn, with the band diving into a climactic melodic breakdown to end the song.
After ‘Garam M.’, a sub-minute ambient instrumental marking the LP’s midway point (the end of Side A on the vinyl version of the record), ‘Shame On You’, the record’s first single may not be the most dynamic or emotionally intense track on ‘Behind The Wall’, but it’s got memorable vocal hooks and call-and-response choruses. At 2:24, it’s a concise summary of Daiei Spray’s key elements and characteristics.
The stop-start riffage of ‘Imposition’ is jarring enough before a complete tempo change to a Pop Punk-inflected chorus, slowing to an even drearier bridge section and marking another change in mood entirely – all within the same song. By this point it’s clear that vocalist Yagihashi has some serious chops; with melody, range, and passion to nail Daiei Spray’s frequent shifts in tone. Guitarist Kyo manages to maintain a hefty but clear sound, giving ‘Behind The Wall’ its melodic edge, while playing with heft and depth as the band’s sole guitarist. Throughout the disc, he’s not afraid to peel off a solo to show his own talents off either.
‘Too Many Ordinary People’ is Daiei Spray’s ‘Born to Run’, or more fittingly, their ‘Simple Song’. It’s an earnest mid-tempo rocker with poignant melodies that could easily make it a live favorite and an anthem of sorts during the band’s future shows. The restraint, subtlety and knowing when to ride out great-sounding ideas without feeling compelled to move the song somewhere else entirely showcases the band’s strengths as songwriters, as well as musicians.