I was excited to hear this album after being introduced to the band via the video they produced for the song Magic Smoulders in the Depths of Optimism as the Remnant of Sin Conceived by the Collective Unconscious of a Million People; they're an energetic and fresh group of dudes from the Mecca of great new indie that is Japan. They really kill it in that video as they thrash their heads along to their own brand of cathartic chaos pop (that must be a new genre). A four-piece consisting of two guitars, bass and drums: Té’s music is frantic and spirited to boot; a band that rely on the meandering licks of their lead guitarist rather than the conventional - and boring - idea of lead vocals. That shit’s whack, right? Although the music is appealing in so many ways, the decision to opt for lead guitar to carry the songs hooks leaves them somewhat limited at times, and I honestly felt some strained, post-hardcore vocals over the top would have enhanced their debut album exponentially.
So generally this music genre is my thing, which I left up my street, next to my cup of tea (brewed and waiting in my finest crockery), and there are so many aspects of the album* that I loved, but for me it has serious limitations. Two songs in I found myself twiddling my thumbs a bit, even though the second track was the single that got me excited about the band in the first place. The album lacks a dynamic that one would expect from this brand of rock. There are no up and downs in the first two tracks, just outright, “balls to the walls” noise. I felt they sounded like an incredibly tight band - with great ideas - who find it hard to deliver fully formed songs; more a collection of concepts.
Realise that Mortality is a Device of Power, that Shackles the Freedom of the People (the shortest track title on the entire album) changed my views somewhat. It starts with an unashamed pick-scrape that leads into an industrial sounding dissonance of awesome. Around the two minute mark the track breaks into a snappy, start-stop riff that reminded me of Scotland’s own Citizens. Again, the song lacked the dynamics that it so desperately needed, but it did get me interested again.
As the album progresses there is a departure from the bedlam of the opening three tracks, and I was made aware of what I like so much about the band, but also what I am not particularly enamoured with. Although the middle songs are clearly played by the same band, they involve more dynamics, which I have probably harped on about enough for one article. It became clear that I was in love with the entire rhythm section, including the rhythm guitarist, but not so hot on the lead guitarist. While the melody in the songs comes mostly from the lead guitar, the real hooks are in the other three members of the band.
Having Fun at the Boundary of the Continuous and the Discontinuous, the Thread of Life Sacrifice the Plaything is probably one of my favourite on the album. It opens with a hammering riff which had my head bopping. Again, I found myself blocking out the lead guitar a bit, which just sort of needlessly wails over the top of everything, but that riff. Ooft.
We get more of the same towards the end of the album, but the last two tracks really salvaged the mood and left me with a positive lasting impression. The penultimate track is the archetypal 'epic' track to finish off the album. It begins with a softer sound: the snare drum gently purrs as the guitars take you on a ride through a glacial valley at sunrise, harnessed by pretty and emotive chords. It definitely reminded me of Explosions in the Sky a lot. Very post-rocky. Certainly, if I were to let someone hear a song from the album, it would be this one, although the lead guitar gets a bit out of hand in the second part of the song. Nevertheless, a very well-crafted post-rock number, just short of eight minutes long.
Then the album ends on a complete departure from the rest of the songs. An under-produced, distorted mess which runs at only 1.21 minutes: a perfect way to end your album! Perhaps this is the band going back to their roots; I am unsure. Regardless, a nice touch to finish the album.
I only truly 'get' a lot of bands once I have seen them live. I feel Té might be one of those bands. They would be excellent to watch live and I would jump at the opportunity to do so. While I have plenty of criticism for the album, I can say with confidence that this is a band that will turn plenty of heads. It is also worth noting that this is a debut record, and a great effort at that. If they honed their sound a bit, which they may well do on album number two, I feel they could go very far with the level of energy and enthusiasm exhibited already.
* from here on out, the album will be referred to as “the album.”
Therefore, the Illusion of Density Breach, the Tottering World "Forget" Tomorrow by Té is out on 19th November via Zankyo UK.