When Yuragi appeared out of Shiga in 2016, it was as another impressive young Kansai act putting out some catchy, and surprisingly loud, poppy shoegaze. Their debut single “bedside” fit in well with the pop-leaning tone of the local scene. When the band released its first EP, “nightlife” just before the turn of that same year, there was something markedly different about its sound – leads were more sunken into the mix, the previously clean vocals were now echoing from whirlwinds of guitar noise. Over the course of nine months and six tracks, Yuragi’s sound had changed into something deeper and even a bit darker.
On its latest release, the six-track mini album “Still Dreaming, Still Deafening”, Yuragi shows us something totally new. The CD kicks off with wailing clean guitars over a march-like cadence crescendoing into the post rock shoegaze explosion of “Horizon”. On “Utopia” the band goes back to the uptempo, danceable sound of its previous releases, but doing so in a much more massive way. The reworked version of “bedside” sits in the middle of the album, verifying the band’s transition to much bigger sound by keeping the poppy sweetness of the original but making the guitar wash much more prominent in the mix. Lead single “Unreachable” returns to the melancholic post rock style of the openers, before the almost 11-minute “Path of the Moonlit Night” wraps things up in epic fashion, building from a dreamy lull to a raging outburst of swirling guitars before descending into a quiet marching snare that wraps it all up very comfortably.
If I have one issue with “Still Dreaming, Still Deafening” as a whole body of work, it’s that the middle portion of the mini album almost disrupts the flow between the first and final thirds. It’s hard to really complain too much, though, since each of those tracks is ridiculously good on its own. From a songwriting standpoint, this is the most impressive music Yuragi has released to date, and production-wise it’s excellent. The new generation of Japanese shoegaze is moving in a very cool, very loud direction, and Yuragi, along with bands like Collapse, Softsurf, and YURAGI LANDS, is among the most exciting contributors.
You can pick up a copy of “Still Dreaming, Still Deafening” via Amazon (JP), though their previous releases have flown off the shelves so it’s best to do so quickly.