Culenasm bring us some neatly balanced love in their new record, which is guaranteed to put a more pleasant spin on the new year.

Release date: December 19, 2019 | MMM Records | Spotify | Twitter | Website

Culenasm are a Japanese post-rock band with some sweet moves, and their latest album is extremely charming. I should probably let you know, that this is a statement coming from a guy who spent the majority of Christmas listening to brooding European folk records. Jumping into In Your Fragrance was therefore quite a transition, as you can probably imagine, but I enjoyed the change of pace and the resulting emotion. Here’s why.

In this record, substance is the name of the game. For the better part, the album is an uplift, and by no means a shallow one. The nuances of post-rock are often used to depict a complex mix of emotions which strike a delicate balance between joy and heartache. In this case, those same nuances are tipped towards the happier scale of things, but they are still relentlessly complex.

You get a particularly potent bout of emotional intensity within the opening track, “Petal”, which blends neatly into the next song, “Drown at Night”. By this time, you get the fair impression that these guys have worked hard on their craft. Harnessing that distorted serenading aspect of their instruments is something they achieve, more or less, with perfection, and that folks, is highly admirable.

It’s an observation which is further clarified in their third song, “Whale Cry”, an experience as peaceful and gentle as can be achieved in the genre. Its highlight comes in the form of some stunning siren-esque guitar work in the chorus. It’s simple yet effective, and I mean really effective. The album transgresses to more poppy sounds when we get to “Someday now”, but as the following track “Moony” clarifies, there is no less substance to be found in the emotional content.

The swift journey concludes on a particularly vibrant number, in the form of “Helshinki’s Dream”, the steady pace of which ensures that the listening experience ends on a high. It draws from some of the moods found in the opening track to In Your Fragrance, but now places a wildly more energetic spin on affairs. In all, you get the breadth and scope to summarise that there is a happy narrative to be found in the album. Read into it how you will, and if you are able to translate the language, then great, but there is little denying the intent behind it. Culenasm are here to brighten your day.

At 25 minutes, the album might pass you by quicker than you’d hope for. If you like what you hear, then that might irk you slightly. In any case, In Your Fragrance is pleasant and light-hearted, but I like how much conviction has gone into the ride. The music is tight, fluid, and proof of the band’s focus. We should probably send a message towards Japan, thanking Culenasm for helping us to start the new year in an uplifting frame of mind. I suspect that, right now, many would benefit from having something this positive in their record collection.

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