Listening to a string of Japanese pop songs, particularly from the larger girl groups, I often find myself becoming lost in the voices, unable to tell one singer from the next. There is a definite quality to the vocal style of many female vocalists, so when I heard UPLIFT SPLICE’s lead vocalist, Chiori, for the first time, it was refreshing to hear the higher-pitched super-sweet sound being used in a very different way. Leaning away from pop and towards punk rock, the four-piece unit comprises Chiori, YOOKEY (guitar), tovita (drums) and kenji (bass), and are on tour around Europe as we speak, following the release of their popular latest album, 000!
From the explosive opening of ‘TheHangedMan’, UPLIFT SPLICE takes the listener on an equally blazing trail through an eleven-song tracklist that ranges from chirpy melodies to some surprisingly heavier moments, as heard in track two, ‘U&I’, which brings together some powerful drumming with a wide-ranging vocal that obliterates any assumptions first-time listeners may be having about the band’s cutesy punk style.
The title track hits early and with due impact, beginning from a relatively low and peaceful verse and building to a moving chorus. For all its promise, aside from a brief breakdown ‘000’ doesn’t leave a huge impression in the tracklist as a whole, but it is a well-composed summary of their style with plenty of positive energy bouncing around.
Often incorporating echoes and reverberation in their instrumentation, the members of UPLIFT SPLICE give their music a dreamlike element that contrasts the raw punk simplicity of their power chords on the guitar and brutally fast drumming. Minimalist riffs as heard in ‘’ build tension to the breaking point until choruses erupt with frequently ambitious melodies. As a result, Chiori’s voice can sometimes sound strained, but she nevertheless holds some beautiful notes that show off a different side to her voice compared with the attitude-filled verses.
F.U.B.A.R.’ takes the otherwise subtle metal influence in the band’s music to its highest level, with a catchy, heavy riff, although the constant shifts in vocals can become overwhelming. This is particularly true of the alternating squeaks and growls in the bridge. However, the band sets the bar straight with calmer offerings like the following, ‘Maani to Hati’, featuring a great guitar solo and one of the most memorable choruses.
However, my recommended track from 000 is undoubted ‘F*** Darlin’’. Despite its title (which makes for plenty of entertainment in the chorus), this track is deeply heartfelt musically, with one of Chiori’s best vocals. Soothing guitar chords and a slower rhythm create a new, fresh sound that shakes up the tracklist.
‘Psywar’, being third from last in the line-up, revives the earlier punk influences and sees the album into its final burst of energy, which continues with the rhythmically striking and pulse-pounding ‘Hypernova Remnant’- final punchy guitar solo included.
Fittingly, ‘The End’ finishes off the tracklist with some tuneful tugs at the heartstrings, and with that 000 comes to a close. Having come to UPLIFT SPLICE as a new listener, Chiori’s voice has left the strongest impression, but my interest was held consistently throughout the album, which just goes to show what a bit of individuality can do. UPLIFT SPLICE isn’t your average punk band, or your average pop group- they are difficult to pin down, constantly refreshing if a little surprising sometimes, and perhaps that’s their greatest strength.
Words by Lauren du Plessis