Now based in Tokyo, Gifu Prefecture-bred Cinema Staff played at the 2009 editions of both the Summer Sonic and Rock in Japan festivals. Formed in 2003, the indie-rock quartet issued three EPs prior to the release of their eponymous full-length debut.
Throughout the album, Cinema Staff meld elements of pop with facets of alternative rock. For the most part it works well. The catchy hybrid of emo and rock music on “Yakedo” (“Burn”) brings to mind the tunes of U.S. act Jimmy Eat World. The upbeat postpunk cut “Meisekimu” (“Clear Dream”) nearly comes to a complete stop mid-song before briefly turning into a sweet singalong ballad. The dynamic “You Equal Me” mixes a funky chorus with math-rock, while Mizuki Iida’s melodic vocals are accented with hardcore-style backup yelps on “Super Throw,” adding a cool screamo edge to the cut.
Possibly striving for greater commercial appeal, lead single “Skeleton” focuses heavily on Cinema Staff’s pop leanings. However, it ends up being the album’s weakest moment. Iida’s dramatic, over-the-top crooning gives the track an almost adult-contemporary J-rock feel. On the other hand, he is more restrained on the mellow “Jikken Shitsu” (“Laboratory”). Cinema Staff keep things interesting by ending the slowed-down number with a guitar-driven wave of shimmering postrock, which stops it from being a misstep like “Skeleton.”
Cinema Staff’s 11-date “two strike to(2) night” tour starts at Chiba Look on June 22 (¥2,500 in adv.; 7 p.m.;  5486-1099). They play the Rock in Japan festival in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki Prefecture, on Aug. 5. For more information, visit www.cinemastaff.net.