The Dream could loosely be described as a shoegaze dreampop album, though that doesn't even begin to touch the number of genres and styles that show up in one form or another.
"I've heard this somewhere before."
You're bound to say it. Takashi Miyaki sounds like everything and nothing you've heard before, a band that wears its influences on its sleeve, its shirt, its shoes, and a little hat on its head. They're not striving for originality, nor are they looking to blow your mind. They're technically proficient, solid songwriters, and smart about their publicity, but they're also almost impossible to talk about without referencing other artists.
That said, it's an approach that works for them. The Dream is the name of their debut album for Metropolis Records, and it could loosely be described as a shoegaze dream pop album, though again, that doesn't even begin to touch the number of genres and styles that show up in one form or another.
"Girls on T.V." has the bones of a rock 'n' roll record, like slowing a Rolling Stones song down to three-quarter speed and adding piles of reverb. "Out of My Head" throws a few slide guitars into the mix along with a loping swing beat to end up at something like a pleasant little country ditty. "Keep Me in Mind" is the sugary side of indie rock. The full version of "L.A.P.D." (a bonus track from which pieces are harvested to appear as a prologue and epilogue bookending the rest of the album) is fine near-instrumental shoegaze, all fuzz guitars, slow beats, and violins, with atmospheric vocals floating in from the clouds.
The members of Takashi Miyaki go by first names only, so one can only attribute those vocals to someone named "Lucy", but Lucy's vocals are sublime throughout The Dream, acting as the glue that ties all of these disparate styles together. They are deadpan, on-pitch, and soaked in reverb. It's those vocals that can take lyrics like "Oh my / We're all gonna die / Oh my / Sometime," in a song that offers a straightforward rock beat and lots of distorted guitars ("Facts of Life"), and twist the whole concoction into a feel-good anthem. That voice ensures that a song like "Keep Me in Mind", a simple love song so sweet that it showed up in a car commercial a few years ago, co-exists with "City", a song awash in distortion and chromatic chord progressions.
Strangely, it also means that the album is best appreciated in small doses. While Lucy's vocals are impressive and lovely, once you get through six or seven songs of them, you start to feel as though you've heard enough. Despite all of the genre-hopping, it blends together a bit.
Despite the musical career, it seems that Takashi Miyaki's first source of inspiration is actually film, as they cite composers like Angelo Badalamenti and Ennio Morricone as some of their primary influences. You can hear that influence loud and clear in their music, each song intent on setting a mood rather than imparting a message, taking many different scenes and turning them into a (sometimes too) cohesive whole.
It's a fine debut, and there's absolutely an audience for this stuff. What remains is for Takashi Miyaki to take all of these influences and styles and wrap them into a package identifiable as only themselves. For now, getting lost in what amounts to a mixtape headed up by that lovely, peaceful voice is a fine way to pass the time.