Day 16: YMCK – “Family Days” Review

Day1Day2Day3 was a project blog that has since then been discontinued. For my new stuff, check out www.boldlydelicious.com!

Day 16: YMCK – “Family Days” (2013)

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Genre: Electronic / 8bit / Pop

YMCK are Japan’s resident 8bit darlings, structuring their music entirely around the types of sounds you are likely to hear in an NES game and vocals. Family Days is a strong EP, delivering exactly what you would expect from the group.

You are instantly greeted by the hook of 夜空は街の, a high-pitched, uptempo chorus that reminds of Perfume. It’s amazing how much life you can squeeze out of such simplistic electronic sounds, it’s a dynamic track, bursting from its seams with energy.

A 90s J-pop track stuck in the world of individual beats, 逆らいがたき運命の中 is insanely fun and catchy. Almost a bit too cute and optimistic, but never aggressive about it. The song knows when to dial it down a bit, creating a certain rush in the arrangement. I’d consider it the highlight of the EP.

未来の懐メロ surprises with an oldschool rap over a mellow beat. The laid-back, rhythmic nature reveals a jazz influence that is quite unexpected, but very welcome. I couldn’t find anyone credited for the rap, so if somebody has information on that, please share in the comments.

If ドットの日々 doesn’t sound like a city theme in a Pokemon game then I don’t know what else to compare it to. It’s relaxing, but has a driving, idle force behind it. I find the verse melody a bit weak, but the production is wonderfully detailed and makes up for it just fine, showing that bare-bones instruments do not have to result in bare-bones arrangements.

猫に囲まれて暮らしたい almost sounds minimalistic for a moment, but quickly develops into one of the most danceable electronic beats I have heard in a long time. There’s something rough and primal about the composition and production, with the smooth, clinical instruments and soft vocals serving as counterpoint. It’s modern EDM, but with a very personal note – uniquely YMCK. There’s not much more to say about this song aside from…listen to it!

左折して右折して sounds like single material to me. Highly accessible, catchy, but also not all too interesting. The little instrumental bit bridging chorus and verse is quite memorable though.

We already reach the end of this EP when また歩き出すために rolls around. I can’t help but think of the Legend of Zelda theme for a second here, at least initially. また歩き出すために is the closest thing to a ballad on the EP and gives off an odd vibe. It doesn’t quite work and I think the melody and vocal delivery are to blame. YMCK just seem to work better the more upbeat and fun they get.

FAMILY DAYS is a great introduction to a great group. The production makes all the songs shine and brings the melodies to life in a way you might not expect from such a sterile, limited genre. A lot of fun right here.

Rating: 4/5

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