Anamanaguchi – Dawn Metropolis Anamanaguchi – Dawn Metropolis

Anamanaguchi - Dawn Metropolis

Anamanaguchi - Dawn Metropolis

Anamanaguchi are in the strange position of being a novelty within a novelty. They’re apart of the endlessly fascinating chiptune niche-genre, a tight-knit community of avant-electronic musicians that have harnessed the sounds of their Game Boys and Super Nintendos to make dance and electronic music, led by the forerunning label 8bitpeoples. While most chiptune artists exclusively use Game Boys to make their music, Anamanaguchi is a fully operational rock band that makes high-energy pop instrumental music by layering their video game sounds on top of guitars and a live drum set. While this setup would completely blow my head open by its supreme awesomeness in a live setting, a few things need to be cleared up about their full-length debut “Dawn Metropolis.” Can you even tell that there are live instruments playing with the onslaught of blippy Game Boy tones? Hardly ever. Does this album still rule? Absolutely.

“Dawn Metropolis” is the musical equivalent of downing an entire pack of Fun Dip at once. Opener “Blackout City” is a spastic barrage of ecstatically chirping 8-bit melodies that refuse to sit still, jumping from one note to the next or sputtering with reckless abandon. It’s the most intense and compact three and a half minutes of pop confection I’ve ever experienced. Another standout track is “Danger Mountain,” which utilizes the stranger, more idiosyncratic electronic hissing noises from their Game Boys and throw in some heart-stopping rhythmic syncopation. The whole album is held together by killer pop songwriting taken straight from the playbooks of Elvis Costello and Ben Folds Five.

The unfortunate paradox of the chiptune genre is that what makes it so unique is the same thing that eventually holds it back, and Anamanaguchi are no different. “Dawn Metropolis” sounds exactly like video game music. Granted, you feel like you’re getting 1UP’s every second or perpetually have star power for the duration of this record, but it’s impossible to separate the music from its immediate association. Luckily, Anamanaguchi seem to be aware of this problem, and “Dawn Metropolis” gets in and out in seven tracks and twenty-six minutes, just in time before they become too exhausting and tedious. While the first six songs are tight, dense power-pop raves, their only misstep is the eight minute closer “Mermaid,” an unnecessarily epic dance-punk foray that gestures toward dissonance and minor textures but only winds up relatively aimless. The bottom line though, is that “Dawn Metropolis” is an incredibly unique and exciting pop album, and you’re guaranteed to get a “What the hell? This shit is kinda awesome” out of any friend you play it for.

-Michael Squeri

Anamanaguchi - Dawn Metropolis, reviewed by Squeri on 2009-03-08T22:01:52-07:00 rating 3.8 out of 5

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