Ian Vanek and Matt Reilly have really outdone themselves on this one. Usually a Japanther release is a muddled mess of racket with some jarringly genius hooks and a couple of random pauses that serve to mark the end of the “song,” or the “songs” just kind of fall apart and collapse in on themselves as an end. But on Skuffed Up My Huffy, the band’s fifth full-length (twelve tracks at a total of about twenty-seven minutes), there are actual songs. Japanther’s trademark hooks, sing-along choruses, and Misfity/Ramonesy/Ronettesy infectiousness has finally crystallized on an album. With the current vogue for shoegaze-inspired noise walls thrust out by No Age and Deerhunter, perhaps this duo can gatecrash the party. The band’s brand of chunky punk/noise doesn’t have many peers, but maybe this more coherent and accessible offering will win it some more converts.
The sound that Vanek and Reilly create is calamitous and huge because they are masters when it comes to layering samples of vocal clips, white noise, and music snippets (and video games) to create a rollicking texture under their guitar and drums. The shit-eating grins they’re wearing when they’re cobbling all of this funk together must stretch the length of Brooklyn, especially when they wail “I wanna be a part of something/ Revolution, baby,” on “$100 Cover.” Joking or not, Japanther is onto something.