If spazzy noise rock bands like Melt Banana represent the frustration boiling just underneath Tokyo’s slick, hypermodern exterior, then the Polysics represent a facet of life in Tokyo that’s equally important: the Japanese’s unwavering commitment to fun, entertainment and outright silliness. Sure, the Polysics have at times veered close to grindcore territory; on their latest compilation release Bestoisu!!!!, however, the band chooses to showcase its more playful side. While novelty acts are hardly a novelty in Japan, the Polysics have always stood apart from the pack and here, they reassert their primacy as the reigning jesters of Japanese rock.
Collecting some of the band’s more recent singles as well as B-sides and live tracks, the limited-edition, two-disc, Japan-only Bestoisu!!!! was clearly crafted with collectors in mind. And yet, if you can manage to get your paws on it, it serves as the best introduction to the band since their previous compilation, the similarly punctuated Polysics or Die!!!!. Not only do we get well-loved tracks like the bouncy, synth-pop romp “Shizuka is a Machine Doctor”, the hyperactive pogo “Coelacanth is Android”, the blatantly Devo-esque “Too Much Tokyo” and the retro-futuristic “Electric Surfin’ Go Go”, we also get plenty of alternate takes, rare B-sides, live tracks and anime theme songs (the last of these is almost self-reflexive, considering the band members’ cartoonish onstage personas). All told, there’s more sensory overstimulation to be found in these two discs than in even the loudest, most garish pachinko parlor. It seems that for the Polysics, goofiness is serious business, indeed.
(Photo: Mehan Jayasuriya)