Yellow Studs - ALARM

review - 08.10.2014 21:53

Yellow Studs' seventh album showcases the diversity of their sound to the fullest.

Formed in 2003, rock band Yellow Studs have been playing together for eleven years now, and while they haven’t been too successful commercially, the members didn’t let that discourage them. Their latest offering, ALARM, brings together a wide variety of sounds and influences that the band has played around with over the years, and it will keep you on your toes from start to finish.

It begins with the jazzy piano rock song Comedy - a song the members clearly have quite a bit of faith in, as it was released for free download this January to help promote the album. It has a distinctly nostalgic feel, calling listeners back into past decades with both its music and lyrics. This atmosphere doesn’t last long, however, as the next track, Dassen, pulls us back to modern day with a straightforward, loud rock sound and screeching guitar.

This sharp contrast between tracks continues with Akibare no sora, an emotional piano ballad with a much more polished feel. Frontman Taichi Nomura’s hoarse voice shines in the second half as he shouts out his hopes and regrets, while loud drums and guitar help to bring it to a climax.

Senetsu nagara is somewhat out of character for Yellow Studs; a sunny, almost pop-rock song. And, just to keep you guessing, it’s followed by the wildest track of the whole album, Tobira, which sees the band’s garage rock influences come out in full force as Taichi howls over the frantic music.

However, the biggest surprise in store for rock fans listening to Yellow Studs for the first time is definitely Hey Mama. The song is a rerecording of a track released by the band’s acoustic folk side project, Team GARAKUTA. It might be a pleasant surprise for some longtime fans as well, as Yellow Studs have never released any Team GARAKUTA songs under their name before and the group’s album was only available at live shows until recently. The cheerful violin and banjo might be a bit of a shock at first, but the song’s bouncy feel and simple lyrics about longing for approval make it a refreshing break from the harsher tracks. The band has added drums and electric guitar and sped it up a bit, but it still retains much of its original charm.

ALARM also features another first for Yellow Studs: the first song written completely by guitarist Ryohei Nomura, Mata aou. A gentle, lullaby-like ballad, which gives his brother’s voice a chance to shine again, in all its rough, imperfect glory.

The second half of the album is a bit more cohesive and a bit more of what fans might expect from the band. The catchy Tsuru no ongaeshi (“The Grateful Crane”) continues their tradition of bird-inspired titles and lyrics, the aggressive SNS looks at the darker side of living in the age of social networking, and Ikiteru furi is lively and nostalgic, with Taichi answering back to with fun, if slightly cheesy, backing vocals. It also gives Daisuke Ueda and his upright bass a few moments in the spotlight.

While it might not be up to quite the same level as the excellent shower in terms of standout tracks, ALARM offers a great overview of the odd mix of sounds that makes Yellow Studs unique, and it shows that they’re still eager to bring even more elements to the table. Fans of their previous work or any of the above-mentioned styles of music should definitely check it out.

ALARM is available for purchase overseas through iTunes and CDJapan.

A trailer for the album featuring clips of each song can be viewed below, along with the full PV for Akibare no sora.

ALARM Trailer

Akibare no sora

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