Sayonara Stranger

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Sayonara Stranger marks Japanese rock band Quruli's first album since moving from indie label Bad News Records to major label Victor Entertainment, although the low-key acoustic balladry of opening track "Lunch" is quick to dispel any fears that this move would be accompanied by any substantial shifts in style. The anthemic rock of "Niji" and the punky "Old Timer" follow, each covering important touchstones of Quruli's already established style, albeit with a shade more studio polish than the band's previous output has enjoyed. Sadly, after the first three tracks things go a little slack, with the gutless title track and the mawkish "Tokyo" ensuring that things don't pick up again until the more upbeat "Transfer" comes to the rescue with its catchy, uplifting chorus and shameless use of phasing effects, and then later the psychedelia-tinged pop of "Shichigatsu No Yoru," with its chirpy Hammond organ and Beatlesque backing harmonies. With Sayonara Stranger, Quruli demonstrate that they can perform as well over a full-length album as they previously have on shorter mini-albums, demonstrating command over a range of styles from Pixies-esque indie punk to Nick Drake-style acoustic folk. Nevertheless, the quality over the 12 tracks on the album is far from consistent, with many of the rock ballads bloated and overblown, and one is left to wonder if perhaps the band might have been better served by making a genuinely good mini-album instead of a merely promising full-length one.