Tokyo based Tarah Kikuchi is by turns throwback and on-trend. His homespun recordings feel snug, warm and familiar. Songs like “Railgun Girl” reside in a sweet spot between Hosono and Demarco, but it’s when he ventures out from that place of comfort, sonically, on a track like “Veronica,” the results feel especially inspired. High-pitched harmonies hop over Os Mutantes grooves as Kikuchi’s palette veers into pop-bop. If that all sounds a bit like Beck’s “Tropicalia” that’s because it does, in the most welcome way. The rest of the Science EP shows off the versatility and deftness of Kikuchi’s style.
Kikuchi’s been at it for five years now, starting out while at an art university, and he’s been incorporating a wider sonic sprectrum over that short period of time. But looking on back at 2019’s “demo album” Greenback2, a lofi affair that is by turns singalong and dream-pop, it is clear the ability to write complex arrangements in an unpretentious and catchy way has been there since the beginning. Via email, Kikuchi reports he’s looking to incorporate glam-rock into his work, a proto-version of what’s surely to come is found late on Greenback2, on the soaring and searing 死んだあの子に会いに行くよ.
For the intimidated, that Kikuchi sings in his native Japanese is of little consequence here. The melodies are super catchy and the rough translations a browser plug-in provides are decent approximations of his intricate lyricism, which can swing from loving to whimsical to the strange. But take our advisement: spend the time digging in now in anticipation of a full LP next spring. | b kramer