It has been some time since we have had a guest article and I am glad to be breaking that long cold silence with a great guest review by the ever talented Zen Albatross. He graces us with his review of Anamanaguchi's brand new album Dawn Metropolis. Enough from me though, read the review below!
Anyone that has even a passing familiarity with Chip Music probably knows Anamanaguchi. Ever since the NES-infused foursome busted their way into the spotlight of New York City’s chip music scene several years back, Anamanaguchi has quickly become one of the unofficial ambassadors of chiptune music around the world. The young ensemble of NYU’ers have continuously proven themselves to be one of the most effective fusions of Pop Rock and 8-bit electronic music to date. Their new album, Dawn Metropolis doesn’t stray very far from the original formula that launched the band’s popularity, but anyone who has heard Anamanaguchi knows that this is (for the most part) a good thing.
When you listen to Anamanaguchi, it goes without saying that your primary objective should be “rocking the fuck out.” With this attitude in mind, it’s difficult to not have a good time with Dawn Metropolis. Power pop melodies & harmonies played by guitars and Nintendos effortlessly rocket through outer space, engaging in a frantic and unrelenting high-speed pursuit. The album starts out with ‘Blackout City’ which immediately kicks things into gear with driving 8-bit pop melodies and upbeat power chords – Familiar territory for those fond of the group’s pop stylings, and undoubtedly a strong first impression for new listeners. ‘Jetpack Blues’ and the album’s title track, ‘Dawn Metropolis’ truly showcase the band’s songwriting ability as NES and guitar melodically orbit around each other, occasionally joining together to sing in unison. It’s truly a sonic spectacle, and a fun one at that, but listeners who strive for something more might find their interests waning after this point.
It’s interesting to note that ‘Guchi’s greatest strengths are perhaps at the same time their greatest weaknesses. Like the pop rock influences from which they draw their unique sound, the song structures eventually become somewhat predictable, and the similar upbeat key signatures in ‘Danger Mountain’ and ‘Tempest, Teamwork, Triumph’ can be trying on the patience of those that are expecting more in terms of variety. These tracks can still be merited for their catchy melodies and hooks, but are nevertheless tiresome after the first half of the album. However, those seeking more diversity will be pleased with the confronting and dramatic sound of ‘Overarrow’ which contains some gorgeously-written minor sections that sound as if they are engaged in battle with the other elements of the tune. Eventually, it satisfyingly gives way to a triumphant melodic counter-attack that sets things right once more. Perhaps the most markedly different tune on Dawn Metropolis (and my personal favorite) is the closing track, ‘Mermaid’. Starting as a slow, contemplative march through a seemingly endless battlefield, it eventually builds to a moment of theatric epiphany, closely followed by a groovy dance section that is equal parts brooding and foot-tappingly catchy. The album ends with thunderous, dark power chords and harsh, discordant squarewaves and noise – An unsettling but nevertheless brilliantly orchestrated outro that prophecises ill tidings for a pixelated world with an uncertain future.
If you’ve never heard Anamanaguchi before, this album serves as a fine introduction to New York City’s profusely talented hometown heroes of Chip-Rock. Veteran listeners expecting more of what they love about the band will be generously rewarded. The pop formula works, and this album is solid proof, but those who find themselves growing weary of the upbeat, highly melodic structures that form the majority of the album’s sound may be left high and dry to an extent. Overall, Dawn Metropolis is still an entertaining romp for anyone with a penchant for the musical union of melodic chiptunes, wailing guitars and ridiculously catchy power-pop oeuvres.
Listen to the album for free and view more awesome videos by visiting the band's slick new website at www.DawnMetropolis.com.
Thanks again to Zen Albatross for reviewing the album and contributing to GM4A. Be sure to check out his site!