Waterproof Leaf


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Waterproof Leaf Review

by Ned Raggett

The cute singing cartoon frog on the front cover may well say it all for some listeners, but it should be said that Waterproof Leaf is anything but, say, some wisp being heartfelt with his acoustic guitar and crying into the microphone. The guitar/bass/synth-using duo instead is more about pop music's endless pep, in a '60s-filtered-through-the-decades sense. It's unclear exactly who plays what instruments, but with Eri Honma on main vocals and Yoshi Imamura providing backing and the occasional lead turn ("I Wish I Was a Human"), the partnership makes nods to everything from the Beach Boys to Saint Etienne and Pizzicato Five and back again. Unsurprisingly for a Blackbean release (the band dedicates not one but two songs to the label), Waterproof Leaf sounds and feels warm throughout, just enough reverb and echo adding to the gauzy flow of sweet little songs like "Sugar Paste." "Sleep Well, Chiro," with its background wash of feedback and backwards masking, suggests a fair amount of chaos without letting it burst through, thanks to the understated lead melody. There's still enough kick to matter, though -- one can imagine a power pop band like the Posies really ripping into these songs if they so chose. Though calm electric guitar provides the lead at most points, sometimes keyboards come to the fore, at points increasing the Pet Sounds feel of things. That said, "Touch the Ground" sounds more like the Young Marble Giants with a slightly more accessible take on pop (the drum machine patters don't hurt). Honma's smoothed-out take on girl group sass -- there's even a total synth-driven tearjerker with "Years of Summer" -- gives everything an intriguingly calm bite song for song. The later Japanese release featured three extra tracks, including two appearances of the song "Guess," once with Honma and once with Imamura singing lead.

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