The name may suggest the latest in a long line of earnest young American singer/songwriters but Jesse Ruins is something rather different. In fact, dreamy synth pop would be a more apt description for this band from Tokyo which was originally formed as a solo vehicle for Nobuyuki Sakuma before he enlisted the services of bandmates Yosuke Tuchida and Nah.
‘Laura Is Fading’ sets early expectations by sounding like a Japanese version of early 80’s synth pop acts like Ultravox. Those elements of brash synths, driving bass and a thirst for colourful melody are all in place, with only the light, breathless vocals to distinguish the Oriental influence. ‘Talk To Alicia’ consists of keyboards so clean and shiny you could brush your teeth with them with only an incessant drum machine marring the otherwise alluring listening experience. After this the songs become a little more blurred and a little less hooky, exemplified by a bouncy but rather cheap sounding ‘Sharon Is Frozen’. ‘Uxbal In A Illusive’ brings ‘A Film’ back into sharper focus with a strident rhythm but the remaining tracks seem to be slightly inferior versions of what’s gone before. Last song, ‘Valentine at 2am’, is the notable exception; it has an empowering surge that unearths hitherto unnoticed levels of romance.
Don’t go looking for much introspection on this album. The somewhat insipid vocals add to the idea that this is a largely superficial experience where the emphasis is on concise pop tunes rather than Junior Boys-style explorations of the soul. Think of M83 on a strict budget which is not necessarily a bad thing at all.
M83, Visage, Ultravox, Color Filter