Slow Beach is somewhat of a supergroup in Tokyo’s indie-rock scene. The group finds Dai Ogasawara, founder of twee-leaning netlabel Ano(t)raks, hooking up with producer Kai Takahashi, who is responsible for some of the most interesting electronic compositions of the year, including a chilled-out remix of Phoenix’s “Entertainment.” They have teamed up with Yuriko Ohno (keyboard) and Keito Taguchi (bass) to create “Lover Lover,” a collection of tropically tinged songs arriving just in time for summer. Slow Beach isn’t just floating on beach imagery and surf-rock guitars, though, as “Lover Lover” conceals some good sonic experimentation and a melancholic heart.
Still, as the name implies, Slow Beach loves warmer climes and the sounds that make you think of them. The title track jogs on with upbeat guitar and vocal harmonizing, making it the most indie-pop sounding number. Along with the closer, “Surfin’ Today,” it’s also the only track not to feature any synthesizer. The way Ogasawara (guitar) and Takahashi (vocals/keyboard) find a medium between their preferred styles — guitar-pop and electronic, respectively — is Slow Beach’s finest achievement, and the best part of the recording. The combination turns “Slow Down” into a hypnotic downtempo affair, while “Motel” flashes signs of funkiness. “Hawaii,” meanwhile, adds in samples of waves, birds and steel drums, the track basking in the album’s tropical ambitions.
Despite the sounds, though, we’re not on Kokomo. The first words sung on “Lover Lover” are: “You don’t love me / It’s a truth.” “Hawaii,” despite sounding like an island getaway, hides some of the most pained lyrics on the album (the words “unrequited feelings” even pop up). Nearly everything here centers on unrequited love and running away (one song is titled “Run Away”). Slow Beach definitely basks in the sounds of the season, but what makes them special is how they realize it ends.
“Lover Lover” by Slow Beach is available via the Ano(t)raks Bandcamp website: www.anotraks.bandcamp.com.