Hailing from Hamamatsu on the western edge of Shizuoka prefecture, The Piqnic have picked up a bit of buzz in 2014 initially through the nearby Nagoya scene, which often seems to be a friendly home-away-from-home for any UK-influenced Japanese indie rock. Trading in a sort of gothic, vaguely psychedelic, 80s-styled, postpunk-influenced epic rock (think The Chameleons), the band are caught in a curious place betweens their music’s aspirations on one hand and their actual reach on the other.
It’s live that it shows up most strongly, and songs like Lololo and Nicht arrive fully-formed for festival and arena stages, but are also loud and pummelling enough to impress on a small stage. Where the music slows down ands opens up into mid-paced rock balladry, it becomes a little stranger, as if the band are singing for an audience they don’t yet have, their voices and tunes flying over the heads of the crowd that is actually there. The Piqnic’s onstage persona is dark, distant and reserved, projecting an image of epic rock at you from afar even when they are just a few feet away, but the recorded versions of songs like ♂♀♀ allow a different, more intimate kind of listening, with some of early Radiohead’s fragility showing through, while the eerie, psychedelic interlude Unheard shows an off-kilter musical imagination that it would be interesting to see taken further.
It’s all frightfully emotional, which is as a rule something thoroughly discouraged on these pages, but on CD we can at least say it works, and some tracks in particular have an undeniable power, made all the more impressive by the casual ease with which they seem able to deploy it. If the buzz around The Piqnic continues to pick up, they may soon start to see their epic ambitions matched by the forum in which they can present it.