Sunday, August 21, 2011

Album Review: Shibuya Crossings - DOYA

Do you find zebra-crossings inspirational? Would you name your band after one? Probably not, but that's exactly what Northern Irish Singer-Songwriter Declan Harrington did when he christened his band Shibuya Crossings, after the worlds busiest zebra crossing in Tokyo.  It symbolised Harrington's wish to escape the NI. fishbowl and expand his musical horizons. So much so that he pieced together a band featuring members from New Zealand and The Philippines.  

Several years later Shibuya Crossings, are based in Islington and have just released their second album "Depend On Your Alter-Ego" or "DOYA" on Typically Magic Records.

The influence of Pavement is apparent as "DOYA" opens with the upbeat single "At Eight in a Spanish Bar". This is a real gem. Criminally overlooked by the Irish music press. The song features catchy chugging alt rock riffs and a sing along outro of "Everybody's watching us all time". The song instantly displays Harrington's vocal abilities as he jumps from speak/sing mode to harmony vox and back again with ease. Its one of the best Irish singles of the year so far.

"Take it Out on Me" continues the upbeat alt Americana feel. This track has a Weezer meets OK Go feel, with fuzzy guitars juxtaposed against high pitched harmony vox. It's slightly camp in places due to the octave bass, but good fun non the less. "You Know it Anyway" is reminiscent of "Proximity Effect" era Nada Surf in places especially on Harrington's vocal delivery in the verses.

"I'll Meet You at the Station"
sees the BPM drop considerably for a top-notch country tinged ballad. The emotion is palpable as Harrington repeats "Where did you go".  While "Gamla Stan" is a good punt to become the next single from the album; featuring more uptempo guitar riffs and several intertwining chorus sections, which combine to bring the song to a close.

The influence of brit-pop runs as an under current throughout the album but it comes to the fore on "If it isn't getting better" and "Everyday (secrets of your style)". The former taking its cues from more modern bands such as Kaiser Chiefs.

"DOYA" is a joyful collection of songs. Far more worthy of your time, than many of the over-hyped Irish albums currently taking up column inches, in the national press. Their single "At Eight in a Spanish Bar" is currently available on free download here

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