Reviewer: Matt Schild
Destroy the new rock." It?s a phrase both powerful and vague enough to be a call-to-arms for discriminating music fans across the globe. Whether it?s aimed at the raging rap/metal stupidity that?s captured the minds of mainstream listeners or a pointed condemnation of the band-wagon hopping, cut-rate emo acts, Big in Japan provides a mantra that?s sure to ring true with music fans who are at their wit?s end when it comes to all the trendy forms of music.
While Big in Japan provides the bored listener with an ideological hammer to smash all sorts of bandwagon-hoppers with, it never finds the musical muscle needed to wield the weapon its catch phrase provides it. While the band?s mix of well-read power pop/punk is a straight-up tribute to generations? worth of spunky pop, and a completely pretense-free alternative to every potential Next Big Thing that tries to reshape rock?s history, Destroy the New Rock isn?t fiery enough to do much damage on its own.
Big in Japan showcases a sound that?s just the sort of thing to expect from a band that?s absorbed the chops of everyone from Cheap Trick up to modern-day pop punk. While the act doesn?t ever fire up its sound to the extremes of raucous pop punk, there?s enough vitriol in the trio?s sound to make sure it?s not going to ever be mistaken for more restrained, pure pop. Whether the band swabs listeners ears with jangling cascades of near-dissonant guitar figures over a warm bass line ("She?s Awake"), or more traditional big-riff arrangements ("For That Special Someone Else"), it?s clear Big in Japan isn?t embarrassed by its infatuation for rocking pop. Songs take on equally lightweight topics, such as the halfhearted desire to kill an ex?s new boyfriend ("New Dead Boyfriend") or simple pop worship ("Dig That Stupid Sound"), and show the band?s love of easygoing songwriting.
Though the act?s unabashed appreciation for everything that lacks artistic pretense of any sort is a refreshing change from the hordes of straight-faced serious bands that work the indie scene these days, it isn?t enough to take the wind out of their sails. Big in Japan isn?t going to destroy anything, or even slightly injure it. It does, however, give a fairly entertaining bit of power pop for connoisseurs of fun rock to cleanse their palates with while they wait for a truly captivating record.