Japan’s Blue Friend’s debut LP, I Will Be Your Blue Friend, from last summer, was a brilliant record combining classic 90’s screamo with contemporary ideas in the genre. The band’s new 7-inch perfectly illustrates this notion of old-meets-new with just two songs.
The release opens with “Home,” an immediate flurry of guitars and harsh vocals reminiscent of Loma Prieta’s earlier records. The music is perfectly arranged being both urgent and driving, but also giving us dynamics and tension. Their earlier work had these drawn out instrumental sections that this release somewhat lacks due to its time constraints, but this just gives us a more condensed and focused Blue Friend. “Home” also features beautiful, intertwined guitar parts and some call and response vocals, eventually building into a cacophony of overlapping screams, cymbals and guitars. Just as it can’t possibly get more intense, it dissolves into just a single guitar and drums to quietly play the song out.
These songs also feature unique chord progressions that intrigue and make the music unpredictable. However, it’s the use of unusual chords and dissonance that are the release’s greatest flaw at times. “Violence” opens with dissonant guitars pulsing and then explodes into a verse full of late 90’s emoviolence nostalgia, complete with blastbeats and vocals drawing comparisons to genre greats like Orchid. Although as the song progresses, some of the dissonance becomes distracting, perhaps an unintentional result of too many strange chords. This also makes it seem like parts of the song were rushed or not fully realized. This is only a minor gripe though, as the good easily outweighs the bad. The mid-section of “Violence” has some of the most beautiful, subtle guitar interplay followed by rhythmic buildups and heavy, drop-tuned breakdowns. The single closes with a lone guitar creeping towards an ominous finish.
It’s hard to find a band that so purely embodies the essence of a genre that also has the creativity to stretch its limits and do new things. Blue Friend are innovators, making waves in a genre where bands sink or swim.