New Album is a bit of a misnomer, at least on this side of the pond. It was actually released all the way back in March in Japan, two months before Heavy Rocks and Attention Please were released globally. The rest of the world had to wait until November to get their paws on it. Somewhat frustratingly, there are actually three versions of this album: the Daymare LP version and two different CD versions from Tearbridge and Sargent House. Here, I am reviewing the Sargent House version (a.k.a. the version carried at my local record store), but the differences between this version and the other two are minor--the track "Black Original" was replaced with "Luna", the song order was rearranged, and some minor variations have been made to song mixes.
New Album is sort of the missing sibling to Heavy Rocks and Attention Please. Several of the tracks on it were drastically remixed for those two releases--"Hope", "Party Boy", "Spoon" and "Les Paul Custom '86" were released again on Attention Please, and "Jackson Head" and "Tu, La La" were released again on Heavy Rocks. Of course, if you're not in Japan like myself, then you'll actually be hearing the 'original' versions long after hearing their remixes. This means that you've heard literally 60% of this album going into it. From that perspective, how could it possibly hold up favourably?
Surprisingly well, it turns out. When I said that the tracks were remixed for release on the other two albums, I meant it drastically. The versions on New Album aren't as minimalist or shoegaze-oriented as Attention Please and are far toned down from the heaviness of Heavy Rocks. Instead, they are more pop-rock oriented on this release, with tinkling synths and keyboards adding a pinch of unadulterated happiness into the mix. All of the songs sound distinctly different--you're not losing anything by hearing these songs a second time. In fact, a lot of them sound better than their alternate versions. A lot of the tracks from Attention Please that didn't seem to go anywhere get the boost they need to really be enjoyable, and some of the more annoying tracks from Heavy Rocks get whipped back into listenable shape. Suddenly, "Jackson Head" becomes a fun techno-rocker instead of an irksome repetitive metal track, "Party Boy" turns into an amazingly fun pop hit instead of a half-hearted empty shoegaze piece, "Hope" finally becomes the enjoyable pop hit its always wanted to be, and "Tu, La La" gets some surprisingly effective symphonic embellishment. Even "Spoon", which was already a pretty fun track, becomes much more enjoyable on this album--the bright, soaring keyboard lines make the piece even more of a sugar rush. It makes me wish we had gotten the first crack at these versions rather than getting Japan's leftovers.
The other tracks that we here in everywhere-but-Japan haven't heard yet hold up pretty favourably, too. "Looprider" is an upbeat, synthpop-based track, "Flare" is an explosive, anthemic pop rocker with glossy and glitchy keyboard effects, and "Pardon?" is a lighter, ambient jazzy track. "Luna" is probably my favourite track that we haven't heard before. It's a fun, pop-ish heavy metal song with a lot of Boris' experimental elements thrown in--you can clearly hear the band making references to baroque pop, thrash metal , and breakcore. It actually sounds like it'd fit in with the hard rock experimentation of Heavy Rocks. (Okay, okay. "Luna" technically isn't a new track. It was taken from their 2009 split with Torche, Chapter Ahead Being Fake. But if you've already heard that album, then you don't need this review; you've already imported this album half a year ago.)
Despite the overlap with some of their other albums, New Album is absolutely enjoyable and definitely worth listening to. It greatly reworks the lacklustre pop music that fouled Attention Please and improves on the weaker sections of Heavy Rocks, all while defining its own distinct sound in the Boris canon.
7.5 / 10
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