New Music Review: Taffy, Darkle

darkle-1440’s Melissa Barrass checks out the new EP from Tokyo’s dreamy bubblegum-gazers:

Two words: Japanese and Shoegaze. That was all it took for me to check out Taffy, a noise-rock reverb-riddled band from Japan that embraces sweet vocals and harmonies. I admittedly have never really taken Japanese music seriously, which is a super shame considering formidable bands like Taffy could very well be a regular on western airwaves. In my defence though, before Taffy, I really only knew of OreSkaBand and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, and well, they’re quite fun and crazy, but they’re not the most serious of acts coming out of Japan, as I have recently discovered. And what could be more of a reason to give Taffy a fair go than the fact that Anton Newcombe has remixed one of their tracks? For those playing at home, Anton Newcombe is the iconic and once controversial brainchild behind the band The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Residing in Berlin now, Newcombe is very well and truly still on the scene producing, discovering and promoting new psychedelic, noise and shoegaze rock. He sure is a busy man, but that truly emphasises the fact that Taffy are a band to watch.

The group have just released their EP Darkle which boasts seven vocally sweet, dreamy and at times energetic tracks. A highlight for me was first track ’Suicidal Bunny’ (yes, not too sure what’s going on with that track title but anything goes in Japan, right?) which starts off with a strong and catchy guitar intro and follows through with playful lyrics and maximum garage jam guitar fuzz.

‘Redamancy’ is dreamy sweet 90s shoegaze track about returning the effort of wholesome love to another. The guitars are swirling, anthemic, noisy, and makes for the best listen when lying in your circa 1995 bedroom on a rainy day with cassette tapes strewn across the floor as you write your lover’s name on a fresh recording.

‘Young Tines’ is, for me, a bit of a weak track, which is a shame because it is indeed also the seventh track that has been remixed by Anton Newcombe. The song is lovely and again sweet but the track doesn’t stand out. It is purely an easy listening track featuring some intricate guitar slides that give the song some interesting qualities. The BJM remix (track seven) reveals many elements that remind me of a handful of BJM songs, tying the song with Brit-infused mellow shoegaze. Naturally I have taken to the BJM remix over the original, but it still doesn’t elevate the song above some of their other tracks on the Darkle EP.

‘Remember to Remember’ is track number four and I particularly love the vocals of Iris in this track. Her melodies are captivating and ride with the shifting sounds as the song builds up and then plateaus. The track is largely mellow, meeting lightly jolting vocals around the three minute mark and fusing the quiet innocence of Iris’ voice with the loud guitar fuzz.

‘HBD’ is an unexpected rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’. From this, I cannot help but be reminded of my Indonesian friend Wina singing me Happy Birthday through a pre-recorded video. It is a toe-tapping recognisable song that you soon conveniently forget is a mainstream festive singalong as Iris puts her own signature sound to it. You cannot help but feel your heart growing five sizes bigger and your cheeks flushing a warm red upon hearing “Happy birthday People” so sweetly exclaimed at the end of the song.

Overall, lessons have been learnt and Taffy are a formidable emerging act that deserve our attention. I recently missed out on seeing Bo Ningen, another Japanese act and I deeply regret it. I cannot wait to see Taffy grow as a noise-rock and shoegaze band and come down under.

Catch Taffy live at one of their upcoming dates:

14th May – Alternative Escape, The Black Lion, Brighton
16th May – The Great Escape, Queens Hotel, Brighton
17th May – CLWB IFORBACH, Cardiff
22nd May – Liverpool Sound City, at Tim Peaks Diner, Liverpool
26th May – Shea Stadium, Brooklyn, New York
31st May – Part Time Punks, The Echo, Los Angeles

melissa barrass


Review by Melissa Barrass.