If the title of this post is any indicator, this is the official first post of my 2017 One Random Single a Day challenge! I had been doing a few now and them through the month of December to get myself warmed up, but from this point on I’m going to really push to have one single review out per day. It’s convenient, then, that the very first song comes from a artist on which I was able to find very little information! Well, actually they are fairly popular in Japan – their second album FIXION, which contains “Amy”, went all the way to #6 in their country. I just meant that, much like Toontje Lager, it was nearly impossible to find any information that wasn’t in the band’s home language. I’ve always though Japanese was such a beautiful language, but it’s one that I know next to nothing about.
In any case, I’d rather just write about what I’m actually listening to, because this song is pretty great. I admittedly don’t really listen to a lot of Japanese music, outside of the Visual Kei stuff I grew to love in high school. Yet, just upon a first fresh listen, the swimming guitars and vaguely feminine vocals remind me a lot of The Pillows, namely the soundtrack they provided for the anime FLCL. And I guess because I’ve always attributed the soundtrack to the themes of adolescence and nostalgia that was contained in FLCL, I also inadvertently gave that context to “Amy”. And that’s probably one of the song’s strongest features. I found some English translations of the Japanese lyrics, and yeah – it’s about nostalgia, namely for a former lover of the title’s namesake who the speaker still reminisces about years after their falling out.
Yet even if you don’t understand the words, you can feel the ache and longing in practically every note and phrase of the song. The guitar riff and uptempo drum work are purely power pop in sensibilities, yet is restrained enough to give the sense that something is missing from the formula that would make this a genuinely happy melody. Even the vocalist, with the way he exclaims “Amy!” in the chorus, feels almost like he’s crying out for help. The midway guitar solo, though simple, gives off the sense that years and years are passing; once again, they are restrained, so the empty spaces feel almost as loud as the music itself. And I especially love the last few bars, where the overall sound of the song gives way to a series of minor chords that just give the song a rather sad, bittersweet finale that really lingers after the end. There’s much emphasis on the “sweet” part of bittersweet, though. At no point does the song feel sad or depressing – it actually seems like a great song with which to go driving – but the connotations are all there.
It’s songs like these that really carve out my true reasoning for doing the Random Single challenge. Since I’m pretty much caged-in by all of the American music that is fed to me through the mainstream and alternative culture in which I live, I probably would have never even heard of a band like THE ORAL CIGARETTES, if not for the efforts I make in the challenge. And if it continues to feed me such wonderful songs like “Amy”, music that makes me want to immediately seek out everything else the band has accomplished, I guess we’re all in for a pretty fun journey this year.