Dressed like a cross between Devo and Spoozys, it wouldn’t be hard to mistake Polysics for heroic spacemen from a Toho Studios sci-fi flick. Their only weapons against nefarious space invaders and giant men in rubber suits would be their stylish get-ups and crazy ass Japanese spazzcore. Strangely, the songs off Neu would lend themselves well to a B-movie with Polysics in lead roles a la Guitar Wolf in Wild Zero or the immortal KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park.
Originally released in Japan in 2000, the noisy Neu is a testament to the madness of frontman Hiroyuki Hayashi who started the Devo-venerating band in 1997. The four-piece went on a brief US tour earlier this year playing a whopping ten shows in nine days.
A mix of vocoder deviancy, wacky synth arrangements, some rough guitar riffs and electronic pops, Polysics are as energetic as they are inventive like their fellow noisy, avant garde countrymen The Boredoms and Melt Banana. This is perhaps evidenced by the catchiness of Neu‘s opener, “Go ahead now!” Laserbeam zips and zooms give way to cymbal crashes, aggressive guitars and passionate, albeit unintelligible lyrics. The madcap fun continues on songs such as the Dead or Alive-ish “S.V.O.,” which spins round (like a record) before spilling into the racing and nonsensical “Making Sense” featuring synth-girl Kayo on vocals.
Beneath the ubiquitous fuzz, white noise and various effects, lyrics that only a hyperactive four-year old could write season each cacophonous song. Sure, the words in the sleeve don’t always match up with what’s being said, but that really doesn’t matter. Almost every line in the notes or otherwise is golden. On “XCT,” Hayashi belts out “beginners English isn’t all that easy / we must work to live!” In “Urge On!!” he blurts, “you say! dive into the studio / without any manuals / I know it’s out of sync / it’s like a bungee jump.” My favorite lyrics appear in “MS-17”: “you say go!! just go!! / you say `stone cold sober?’ / oh no! I don’t know why.”
The head-bobbing last song on Neu, “Black Out Fall Out,” feels at once out of place and a perfect closer. Rather than a raucous collection of riffage, Kayo takes on vocal duties and delivers a bubbly, new wave J-pop song. Over flittering synth melodies, the cadence of a drum machine and vocodered back-ups vocals, Kayo asks “Hey! Hey! Are you ready to go? / Black out Fall out!”
Don’t ask me what it means, but I think I’m superfun happy 100% in love.
Melt Banana – Cell Scape
Devo – Freedom of Choice
The Pugs – Pugs Bite the Red Knee