I have a strong feeling that the Japanese musicians I come across this year will end up being the MVPs for this challenge. “Amy” and “Shishuuki” have been among the songs that occasionally swim through my brain in fond remembrance of what I’ve covered on the challenge so far. As it stands, I’ve come across yet another j-rock band, and after listening to a few of their tracks I wonder if j-rock is just objectively better than its American counterpart. Lindberg formed in 1989 and soon became notable for their catchy, uptempo music, as well as being one of the very few Japanese bands at the time to be fronted by a woman. Between their conception and their dissolution in 1989 they released fifteen studio albums, all while keeping the same lineup from the start, making them one of the few rock bands to do so. Their most popular hit is probably “Imasugu Kiss Me” – from their 1990 album Lindberg III – which placed third on Japan’s Oricon Annual Single Sales Chart. This single is probably the most definitive of their style – bouncy rock sing-a-longs driven by a prominent guitar riff and lead vocalist Watase Maki’s charismatic vocals. I honestly wish I were writing about this fun, poppy song, mainly as an excuse to listen to it a half a dozen times over the course of this writing.
But no, instead I’m writing about a significantly sleepier ballad titled “Glory Days” – which definitely isn’t a cover of the Bruce Springsteen song, sadly. I could imagine it being pretty tough for rock bands in general to pull off sentimental breakup ballads, but even more so if the group is well-known for more bubbly, fast-paced fare. For what it’s worth, this is a good song. Just like with “Amy”, you don’t really have to understand the lyrics to zero in on the notable pain and frustration in Watase’s vocals. Yet judging by the translation I found, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to understand what she’s singing about either. I’m especially attracted to the line that translates to, “The window of the train is just like a movie screen / Rewinding me back to the past”. So many of these breakup ballads feature the cinematic imagery of the speaker or his/her ex-lover departing on a train, and I think there’s this tragic idea of returning back where you started from after a breakup, as if the time spent and memories shared together were all for nothing.
Also like “Amy”, the start of the chorus begins with singing out the title which isn’t so distinctly Japanese – in “Amy”, it is the name of a girl, and here it’s an actual English phrase. I’ve noticed that a lot of Asian pop songs tend to do this as well (such as in “Hoo Hoo Hoo” with the phrases, “Baby, missing you… Baby, still loving you”) and while I don’t exactly know the reasoning for the trend, the effect is has is that the emotions emitted in the respective song tend to transcend national background or language itself. As I mentioned before, it’s hard to imagine that a song as poignant as this wouldn’t be about something relentlessly tragic. Anyway, this is quite a lovely song from a band at the height of their prowess and a good example of a ballad that may actually be stronger than a lot of the high-tempo pop-rock they are most known for. In any case, totally check this band out.