Half Sports are one of the most fun, energetic and adventurous indiepop bands in Japan, and their debut mini-album Slice of our City was a raucous little bundle of joy. With Mild Elevation, the band opt to mature without compromising the essentially rough-and-ready approach that defined its predecessor.
Most of the songs on Mild Elevation are really two or three songs driven into each other at high speed, with songs like closing track The Pretend Girl and Streamers of Flames suddenly accelerating and shifting tempo from one moment to the next, and in Needle the actual song serving mostly as a set of bookends for the extended instrumental passage and none-more-indie guitar solo at its core. New and Unknown Kiss is a circa-1980 Soft Boys-alike psych-tinged new wave powerpop anthem with a decidedly Johnny Marr-esque guitar solo neatly slotted in, and would have sat comfortably on Slice of our City. Other tracks like the opening His Castle Staying in the Sky take the psychedelia a step further, cranking up the clatter from singing drummer Keita Kanamori’s kit and letting the guitar’s ring out in a lo-fi Jesus And Mary Chain proto-shoegaze wall of scuzz.New and Unknown Kiss (Live at Uguisudani What’s Up)
While Mild Elevation is a little more restrained than its propulsive, irrepressible predecessor, it’s every bit as rich in tunes, ideas and enthusiasm, and features a combination of energy, easygoing looseness and understated intelligence and imagination that ensures they still stand out in a scene that can often be prissy, reverential and sterile.