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Formed in 2012, DYGL are an alternative/indie-rock group from Japan. Songs of Innocence & Experience is my first exposure to the group and a pleasant surprise.
The first track, ‘Hard to Love’, caught me off guard. A catchy, melodic song with a hazy, lo-fi indie feel, the lyrics are personal & relatable. Nobuki Akiyama’s vocals are fantastic here.
‘A Paper Dream’ is one of those songs that is going to grow into a monster at big festivals in the future. It’s a perfect song, bringing me back to the early-to-mid 2000s indie scene. The musicianship is fantastic but it’s the guitar of Yosuke Shimonaka that shines, making it so contagious. This song has the singalong factor and I see large audiences in the future belting it out. This album is a melting pot of sounds, just when you think the song is going one way, it instead goes the other.
‘Spit It Out’ continues in the same fashion musically & thematically. The previous songs had themes of love and nostalgia but here it’s about saying what you feel regardless of what society may think. Musically the song has the sound of a heavier Beach Boys with a rebellious streak. The fuzzy guitar reminds me of Arctic Monkeys back in their early days. It’s a very catchy track and the songwriting remains stellar.
‘An Ordinary Love’ has a great intro before settling into a moody, melodic style. With the chorus, it returns to the style of the intro. The industrial drum crash throughout is reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails.
‘Only You (an Empty Room)’ starts off with slow drums from Kohei Kamoto who stands out on this track because of the intro alone. The guitar work on this song is just beautiful and dreamy. The song has an almost ambient vibe at times, another unique piece of this record. The vocals here are perfect, an album highlight along with the horns towards the end of the song.
‘Bad Kicks’ is another standout – in your face, punky & energetic. What stands out for me is the aggression in the music and vocals, a welcome change of pace. The sound is reminiscent of The Clash at times but the music is typical of DYGL – unique. The star of the track, undoubtedly, is bassist Yotaro Kachi.
‘Don’t You Wanna Dance in This Heaven?’ follows this, a song that genuinely has me lost for words. It’s very hypnotic, otherworldly & psychedelic throughout. It’s one of the more uptempo tracks on the album and quite magical to listen to.
‘As She Knows’ has quite moody lyrics set to a an upbeat track. The music is quite gentle & bright. It is the poppiest & most accessible song on the album, thematically about breaking up and moving on. ‘Nashville’ is yet another highlight, with a standout vocal performance. It has elements of country and pop music and a beautiful guitar tone throughout.
‘Behind The Sun’ is the most musically diverse, modern sounding song on the album. It starts off with lo-fi electronic drums and again the music is quite hazy. The sound is unique, but with some inspiration from the likes of Daft Punk and Fleetwood Mac. This is a song I can imagine on the soundtrack of a retro film, modern yet also of a time gone by. It’s a great closer to a perfect album.
For me, this is a perfect album with something for everyone. A personal record that we can all relate to. No two songs sound the same and DYGL shine bright on Songs of Innocence & Experience. I can see these four men becoming a very big deal in the future and, if they do, it’s deserved. The music is fantastic, the songwriting is top tier, and every track is great. Unlike a lot of indie rock/pop music this album shows maturity, with lots of soul and no filler.