Album Review: toe – Hear You

image‘Hear You’ is the third full length album from Japanese math rockers toe. It follows their critically acclaimed ‘The Future Is Now’ EP which left fans of post-rock and math rock wanting more. Having just wrapped up a highly successful US tour, the weirdly-named band seem to be in their prime. ‘Hear You’ continues where they left off – a huge body of work full of complex melodies and thoughtful songwriting, it has more than enough for older fans to get their teeth into, yet is also accessible enough for those just beginning to dip their “toe” into the huge lake that is post-rock and the associated genres.

‘Hear You’ brings the classic toe style from the word go, but also improves it and makes it richer and somehow more accessible without compromising nor altering their penchant for the weird. One thing that may stand out to fans of toe’s previous work is the inclusion of vocals on five tracks out of the eleven on this record. Rather than resulting in the band dropping their usual sound and identity, it’s actually the proof of toe’s versatility, and sits alongside the other tracks fantastically well.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChFmItGqcR4&w=100&h=420]

Despite this slightly more minimalistic sound, the instruments still have licence to find their own voice and this is seized upon by drummer Kashikura Takashi in a typically explosive manner. Intro and follow-up tracks ‘Premonition’ and ‘A Desert of Human’ provide the perfect opportunity for the talented drummer to start the record off with a bang, and he makes full use of it. His explosive presence becomes the focus despite the inclusion of acoustic guitars and bass in what is essentially one evolving drum solo.

Another highlight is ‘My Little Wish’, featuring more electric guitar and synth sounds, it almost feels like an impromptu jam session. toe really use it as a vehicle to display their musical proficiency, with its jazz-like syncopated drumming and whole host of melodies that flow perfectly. All in all, an exciting record that breaks some new ground for the band.

‘Hear You’ is unique in the way that it doesn’t stray far from the sound that toe have worked hard to perfect, yet still provides many new and interesting sounds. Many purists may struggle with the inclusion of vocals, and I would concede that they don’t add a whole lot to the songs and are no more engaging or enjoyable than the instrumental tracks. However, this record would be the perfect place for someone new to post-rock to start listening to the genre. All in all, a great addition to a formidable back catalogue by one of Japans finest musical exports.

4/5

’Hear You’ by Toe is out now on Topshelf Records/

Toe links: Website|Facebook

Words by Andy McGonigle (@andyjmcg87)

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