It’s beginning to rain again, the chill that cascades through the air is biting, and soon the obscured sunlight will barely even creep through the fogged autumnal sky. It’s been a year quite unlike any other and I, like so many, have made a sorry time of it all. Isolation, desperation, self-abhorrence, and above all regret, have coloured the often agonising hours of ennui and distance we could only share through virtual window panes. Now, as the days begin to run shorter, and the surface hues of my hometown begin shifting to a soporific grey, it’s bands of candid intensity such as regrets are killing me that seem all the more relevant.
My own carelessness. is the first EP from the downcast Japanese trio, released through the Norwegian Slow Down Records. Hailing from Sapporo on the island of Hokkaido, they released a demo back in 2018 which was an emotionally turbulent and energetic prologue to their more fully formed label debut. The exactness of their sound is a subtle combination of styles. As far as screamo goes, the foundation of My own carelessness. is very much in the raucous and unpolished vein, but there are some interesting post-punk flavourings thrown into the mix.
It does not deviate massively from what one would expect, but it does so enough to stand out, and even at its most faithful to the genre, it does so with an inventive flair. Despite solidly listening to several albums by different artists throughout my day, I still found my mind wandering back to some of the standout guitar riffs on this record.
At just over a minute, “Grudge” is more of an opening crescendo than a song in itself. The track builds, from a simple plodding drum beat and clean guitar phrase that rapidly erupts, into a caustic swell of dissonance. The rustic production style feels intimate, and I spent the length of the EP with the feeling that I was present in the room with them, despite being nine time zones behind. In fact, it would be fair to say the aesthetic presented by this band is one of an intimate therapy. One pictures a crowd of likeminded followers, utterly entranced in the expanse of ardour, as they join to express their innermost woes. I have no doubt that this was the band’s intention, given their cathartic zeal and the established expectations of the genre, but it’s nevertheless an impressive trait.
“23” covers a lot more emotional ground, and does so with off-beat stylistic decoration. It begins just as “Grudge” ends, with a frenetic barrage of strained punk, yet the body of this track is more akin to a lurking post-punk deviant. The chorus-laden guitars offer a psychedelic digression that adds a sinister overtone to the track, which continues seamlessly as it shifts gears.
It is on “Careless” however, that my opening reel of pathos feels the most pertinent. The track is a little more reminiscent of the classic Midwest emo sound, sans whiny vocals. Throughout the three-and-a-half-minute runtime, I felt my most placated as light and intricate guitar passages accompany upbeat drums. Where the opening tracks are predominantly a squall of frustration and noise, “Careless” is a more introspective track. It is the comparative repose that allows the deeper and more contemplative sadness to rise above the surface, no longer hindered by a more chaotic bearing. “In Despair” feels like an appropriate summation of the emotional spectrum covered by the first three tracks. Though it doesn’t add anything new, bar one truly excellent guitar riff, it is a fitting bookend to an insightful collection of feelings.
Yu-ki Oda’s vocal performance is, above all, anguished. His style is broken and coarse, a manifestation of modern discontent. I must admit I was initially somewhat disappointed in the decision to forgo the subtle singing heard on their demo. Though only brief, the added layer of harmony was a welcome break from the raw screams. Nevertheless, it’s hard to argue that the vocals don’t accomplish their aims. There is no denying the inherent emotional capacity of uninhibited yelling, especially in such a downtrodden context, and the limited instances of clean vocals heard here are more of a monotone chant than singing. The relative simplicity of the vocals allows the musicianship to shine, and shine it does.
Oda’s guitar work is sublime and makes inspired use of guitar effects and techniques to add considerable flavour. Technically, sure, it pales in comparison to the virtuoso math rock that exploded out of similar inspirations, but the level of variation means that each section of each track feels fresh and invigorated. Similarly to the vocals, the bass and drums of Kyota Saito and Keita Kishisato provide an energetic backing that allows the guitarwork to take the podium.
I think it will be interesting to hear how regrets are killing me follow on from this EP. They are a young band with a lot of promise, and they have shown a keen eye for development, as evidenced by the progression from their demo. The future should hopefully see their resourceful command of the genre grow further. Above all, this is an EP that deals with struggle and the ways in which that manifests in our collective mental energy. It has a tone that waxes and wanes, yet the message throughout seems to me ever clear; life sucks and sometimes there’s nothing we can do about it but scream.