My final review for the 2018 season. Just as I started with a special review, I am ending with a special review.
Haru Nemuri delivers an excellent blend of noise rock, J-pop, and hip-hop inspired by the rich musical history of Japan. While there are a lot of synthetic sounds to be found here (as expected with pop and hip-hop releases), these are often driven forward by crunchy distorted guitars and noise-y soundscapes. In terms of the noise, it certainly isn’t harsh by Japanese noise standards and it certainly isn’t very new or unique but it is effective in adding to an already layered set of songs.
“MAKE MORE NOISE OF YOU” is an incredibly powerful opening song that draws on a lot of Haru’s Japanese punk influences. The first time I heard this it reminded me a bit of another Japanese band called Midori but as I listened to it more and got a better sense of the sounds I was hearing, it certainly started to distinguish itself more and more as being something that needed to be taken on its accord.
The album doesn’t really get much heavier than the opening track which was a bit disappointing for me at first. But after I overcame my own expectations, I began to appreciate Haru to Shura more as a pop album. Still, there are moments of intensity found elsewhere on the album like in “narashite” where Haru intensifies into a series of yelled vocals towards the end of the track. Or in “harutosyura” which features some of the noisiest and dirtiest guitar work I have ever heard on what is considered a pop album. “harutosyura” ends with layers of noise in the background as the guitar brings the song to a climax in a noise rock fashion.
The song “nineteen” has some of the best synthetic production on the entire album kicking off with this rolling synth in the background separated by occasional piano chords and an additional synth part. This rolling synth riff comes up multiple times throughout the song to great effect.
There are also some fairly experimental moments on the album like in the track “zzz pt.i” which I believes features a piano sample of Debussy’s Clair de Lune (or so I read) along with sample vocals of Haru as well as some rough noise tracks that constantly cut in and out.
The album comes to a strong, emotionally charged climax with the song “rock ‘n’ roll wa shinanai” which kicks off with a feed-backing distorted guitar that essentially moves from a brief free improvisation into some hanging noise-y notes before jumping into this emotionally charged clean guitar part that sounds enlightening and up-lifting. The song builds in intensity as a male vocalist is added into the performance before the song starts to settle down with Haru’s screams and feed-backing guitars. The album ends with the quiet and short “zzz pt.iii”.
Haru Nemuri delivers one of the strongest pop albums of recent years by blending rap and noise rock influences into the mix. While some songs are certainly more direct and entertaining than others, I wouldn’t say that there is a single weak track on here (excluding the remixes which aren’t even really that bad either). Every song delivers in its own unique way and adds something to the overall construct of the album. I am excited to see what is to come with Haru since this is her first real album.
9/10 – Amazing