»Outside of the world«, the second album by Japanese trio Usurabi, is a rare pleasure – a guitar pop album that’s deep with spirit, bristling with energy, melodically rich and precious: full of life. It’s even more thrilling than its predecessor, 2021’s Remains of the Light, also released by An’archives, its eight songs falling together just perfectly. If you’ve ever swooned to the sound of rattling, humming organs on countless ‘60s garage rock sides, the wistful beauty of David Roback and Kendra Smith’s music as Opal, the brittle immediacy of those 80s EPs from New Zealand acts like The Clean and The Chills, you’ll find plenty to love here.
The line-up’s still the same: the songs are written by Toshimitsu Akiko, previously a member of Doodles and Aminome; playing behind her is drummer Morohashi Shigeki and bass player Kawaguchi Masami, who’d previously played together in Kawaguchi’s legendary Broomdusters, where Kawaguchi really started to establish himself as one of Japan’s greatest rock guitarists. But Usurabi is very much Toshimitsu’s vehicle, a space for her to gift her gorgeous songs to the world, with Kawaguchi and Morohashi helping guide the songs into the light. Indeed, one thing that’s particularly noticeable about »Outside of the world« is the way all three musicians act in service to what the songs demand.
So »Meet again, outside of the worl«” opens the album with a beautiful 60s garage sway, all buzzing organs and Toshimitsu’s beautifully clear voice. »Even if it’s a lie« bristles with energy and tension, its driving rhythms recalling groups like The Feelies, but with Toshimitsu’s surf rock guitar riding the waves. »Pura« is pensive and melancholy, its graceful slow motion dissolving into a free-form section where Kawaguchi and Morohashi drill down into the earth, a fiercely responsive rhythm duo, while waves of coruscating noise guitar soar out into the ether; »Waves« is a stately closer, crushing guitars cossetting a slow, martial rhythm.
Recorded over 2021 and 2022, »Outside of the world« is a more than worthy follow-up to both »Remains of the Light «and the limited cassette, »Further closer«, released in 2022 on Kawaguchi’s Purifivia imprint. It has Usurabi stretching out, letting their songs breathe when they need, and tightening the screws on other songs so they become perfect pop statements. There’s plenty of joy and pleasure here, and a gentle but determined melancholy; inviting and beautifully sculpted, Outside of the world is a quiet masterpiece.
Edition of 400, comes in a 2 colors (gold & black) silkscreened on heavy jacket with obi (black or patterned light pink), with inserts and a postcard. Special A3 (fold out) full color & duotone insert by Andrew Chalk. Printed by Alan Sherry. Liner notes by Jon Dale.