Youmentbay - Youmentbay
Youmentbay may have started out as a cover band of Asian Kung Fu Generation, Spitz and Blink-182 in university, but they aren’t in the vein of stadium rock at all. While all those bands enjoy huge sales and have distinctive, flamboyant images, Youmentbay is just a guy on guitar (Yamatani) and a girl on drums (Sakurai). Which, as it turns out, is also a pretty good formula for success.
On this self-titled E.P (and their catalog to date), Youmentbay explore a range of styles with a revolving door of support members. Now what you can do with just a guitar and drum kit might be an artificial restriction, but Youmentbay get around it in various ways, including rapping, changing rhythms, using guitar effects, and taking turns to sing. Yamatani has a gentle clean tone suited to J-rock ballads while Sakurai has a really cute breathy voice similar to YOU or Chara. By mixing it up, singing together or doubling their voices, they are able to create a wide variety of moods. And while neither of them have the magnetic personality to drive a mainstream band or fly solo, it works in their favor, because it makes them much more relatable as real people and not rock stars.
Released at the end of the Heisei period, they take the opportunity to take stock of who they are, recalling old memories (“cider”), unsuccessful in love but head held high (“GOOD”), low on money and unpopular but still hopeful (“こんなんでいいわけ？“). They also dispense advice on expressing true feelings (“T.R.U.E.”) and making songs out of nothing (“Night Radio”). While some of this can be interpreted as singing to the listener or a friend, it’s entirely plausible that they are they are trying to encourage themselves to do the same. As much as this is part of their charm, they ought to have more confidence in their music, because these songs are actually pretty catchy and fun to listen to, and their style of rapping/singing is refreshing among the sea of aspiring singer songwriters.
Being an indie band out of Shimo-kitazawa, this EP has a very DIY feel, and occasionally you wonder what it might sound like if they had a little more polish in the recording and a fuller arrangement, but it’s nice that it’s more like a band and not overcompensated by synths or DAW effects. They may never be the cool kids or the life of the party, but if you tend to be in the minority by choice or design, you’ll likely find Youmentbay is your cup of tea.