Since I was handed an advance copy of “Haifai Shinsho” (“Hi-Fi Anatomia”) a couple of months ago, I’ve been unable to go a day without hearing it. I think I need help. This album is aural crack.

While Soutaiseiriron have come heavily recommended by several friends, I failed to get into their 2008 debut minialbum, “Shifon Shugi” (“Chiffon Doctrine”). It sounded like The Smiths being covered by Japanese indie-pop also-rans Advantage Lucy: all uptempo Marrsy guitar and off-key cutesy vocals. But the Soutaiseiriron who made “Haifai Shinsho” are not the same band. Here the sound is incredibly fragile, as if played on instruments made of glass; tiny, introverted music tanked up on melancholy and longing. Everything appears to have been played at minimum volume and close-mic’ed to capture every last nuance of sound; not least the vocals of Etsuko Yakushimaru, whose voice (now on-key and marginally less cutesy) carries a hint of optimism despite an ever-present aura of sadness.

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