I first encountered DYGL (pronounced “day-glo”) in their earlier incarnation as the ungoogleable De Nada at a small show at the now defunct Shibuya Echo in December last year and was impressed by their energetic brand of jangly indiepop. Yeah, I know, another jangly, 80s-influenced Japanese indiepop band. There are a lot of them about, and really a lot of pretty good ones, although so slavishly devoted to a particular sort of lo-fi, C86, proto-shoegaze aesthetic are many of these bands that distinguishing the fine nuances that separate them can be a bit like trying to differentiate between different K-Pop groups on sound alone, i.e. the differences are there, but you have to be deeply buried in the subculture to recognise them when uniformity and adherence to a style are such important parts of what passes for musical identity.
Bearing this in mind, DYGL’s closest musical contemporaries might be Nagoya’s Lilacs, who share a similarly propulsive, uptempo rhythm. In particular, what I like about DYGL is that the vocalist actually sings properly. He’s actually got a rather nice soul singer’s voice, which is in evidence a bit more in his other band, the more musically adventurous Ykiki Beat, and when taken as a whole, DYGL’s musical repertoire seems less rigid than some of their more 80s-fixated peers, demonstrating a possible interest in, or at least echoes of, the genre’s 60s garage roots as well, which expands the range of sounds available to them.
The band also have a five-track CD/R that’s doing the rounds (not sure if it’s available to buy or even what the real title is, but track them down at one of their gigs and I suspect they’ll have a few copies). On the CD, things are a bit more conventional, with the homogenising nature of bedroom recording meaning that the vocals, the band’s strongest point, slip back into the dreamy murk that characterises Tokyo-based contemporaries like the (nevertheless very good) Boyish. That said, the levelling effect of the lo-fi recording means that DYGL’s songwriting has to stand by itself, and it does so confidently. There’s a lot of energy that the band are forced to repress in these recordings though, and the sense remains though that these are songs that would benefit from some time in a proper recording studio where the band can rock out and let the vocals sing out cleanly.
There are some excellent songs here and DYGL are a young band to watch out for. Especially if you get the chance to see them live, they really are one of the best bands in their genre, brimming with energy, their sound breezily retro, but not overwhelmed by museum-piece recreation of their idols.
UPDATE: DYGL now have their own Soundcloud with four songs, including some different ones to those linked here, up on it. Go check them out at this link.