Boris – Smile

"It’s hard to overstate just how much we have to thank Japan for. Godzilla, Yoshitomo Nara, Kurosawa…the list is endless."

Boris – Smile


A few years ago if you were to play the word association game and said ‘Japan’ you might expect to hear in reply ‘Sony Walkmans’ or ‘Playstation’ or ‘Endurance’. If you asked your grandfather who fought at Singapore in the Second World War you might get a different answer still. If you play the game now you might well receive the answer: ‘Insane psych-out rock madness.’


It’s hard to overstate just how much we have to thank Japan for. Godzilla, Yoshitomo Nara, Kurosawa…the list is endless. When it comes to music the joke used to be that however rubbish a band was, they were still ‘big in Japan’. In an ideal world Japanese music would be big everywhere, and there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be. Cornelius, Boredoms, Maher Halal Hash Baz…this list is endless too.


And then there’s Boris.


Latest album Smile kicks off with the biggest rock riff you ever heard. Flower Sun Rain isn’t just about the sludgy drone rock riffs that one associates with Southern Lord records. After that immense opening riff the song slips into psychedelic pop mode, albeit with more flashes of scything guitar and a righteously noisy conclusion. Buzz-In opens with a small child chuntering away before it goes all hardcore over you. It’s a three minute punk epic and considerably ups the ante after the relative calm of Flower Sun Rain. Laser Beam starts off like a scuzzy rock track, like Motorhead on speed. And it rocks on until just before the end when the track suddenly morphs into a folk song. Not for long though – along comes Statement to stomp all over it. Another hardcore thrash it takes no prisoners and is swathed in white noise and feedback. My Neighbour Satan opens rather more gently, with more of a shoegazing sound. And for two minutes or so it's a perfectly pleasant pop trip. But it couldn't last. Drums and then one hell of a wall of noise - feedback and howling guitars - swamp it. And then back to the pleasing pop and then back to one hell of a din.


No Ones Grieve opens with long slow ominous riff. And this is appropriate because it quickly erupts into a swaggering racket. Having said that it's a controlled racket, a din that's just about kept in check. The untitled seventh track starts slowly, it's languid pace interrupted at times by demented squalls of noise. Halfway through the sprawling epic the heavy guitars are brought in to add a bit of menace but overall the sound remains relatively placid. You figure that it can't last, that at some point it will explode into life. But it doesn't; it just keeps on keeping on.


So insane freakouts, feedback splattered drones, guest appearances by Stephen O'Malley and Michio Kurihara and little bits of pop thrown in for good measure. What's not to love?