Six long years after their first two enjoyable albums, Tokyo band Yucca made a welcome return in June 2012 with the even more impressive “Our Journey (to anywhere we want).” It may not be the most innovative album of 2012, but because of its beautiful textures and overall listenability it was the Japanese album that I found myself playing the most.
Yucca’s first two albums were focused more on instrumental post-rock, but over the intervening years the band has become more comfortable with singing. “Our Journey” features guitarist Yusaku Enomoto and keyboardist Yuki Kawana’s soft complementary vocals on almost every track. This has taken them in a more twee, indie-pop direction and some songs even recall late-1990s and early 2000s Shibuya-kei artists such as Cornelius or Kahimi Karie.
With some odd time signatures, repetition and irregular song structures, Yucca remain a post-rock band at heart, but they take their cues more from acts like Stereolab or The Sea And Cake than the meandering quiet/loud forms of the genre. With all 14 tracks on “Our Journey” hovering around the pop-song length of three minutes, the repetition never becomes tiresome and our interest is easily retained.
Yucca have a basic format for most of the songs on this album: the base of the song is formed by a guitar or bass riff repeated throughout, and the other instruments and vocals work their rhythms around it adding colors and harmonies. The clear, no frills production of “Our Journey” highlights each instrument and captures the quintet’s mellow and minimal sound.
Keen to have their music heard, Yucca released “Our Journey” in stores for a flat price of only ¥1,000. Surprisingly, the displays for the album in record stores even advertised the fact that it was available to download for free on their website: www.yucca-sounds.com.