Japan is home to the unusual and tricot are no exception. The band have made big waves in the world of experimental math rock since their debut LP ‘T H E’ in 2013. Their third, the aptly titled ‘3,’ is everything fans would expect. An eclectic palette of unpredictable songwriting, it surges along with odd time signatures, strange structures, staccato rhythms, seamless transitions, impassioned performances, and a range of genres.
‘3’ flaunts pop, punk, progressive rock, math rock, jazz, even a touch of disco at one point. The sum of these flavors is what makes tricot what they are. But what truly allows the band to transcend the ‘experimental math rock’ label is the graceful and unapologetically poppy vocals of Ikumi Nakajima. Her voice brings a human, emotional element that the instruments, despite their fierce energy, can’t. The fact that Nakajima sings while playing stringy leads and major/minor seventh chords in constantly changing time signatures is testament to her skill (I’ve seen tricot live—Nakajima is a machine!). The emotional power of the tracks speaks of the universality of music, as the lyrics are in Japanese, a fact that only adds to the intrigue.
The always-stellar guitar work of Motoko Kida is not in short supply. ‘3’ is chock-full of truly creative riffs and licks given extra vibrancy by her signature style of playing, as well as that rough, slightly metallic tone she favors. This is particularly evident on ‘Pork Ginger,’ which contrasts jagged, restless riffs with moments of reverb-drenched delay. An interesting effect enhances the bass at points here also, similar to that of the guitars on The Cure’s ‘A Forest.’ Stunning instrumentation features on ‘Sukima,’ too, the outro of which shows tricot at their best. After a brief quiet section, the band dive back in to end the track with intricate lead guitar harmonizing beneath an impressive high-pitched vocal chant. An expression of ecstasy the track had been building towards, it’s as flawlessly realised as everything tricot does.
‘18, 19’ begins with a series of technically sublime drums fills. It’s a reminder that Yusuke Yoshida can really bang those skins. Few drummers on the planet display such diverse skill and stamina. (Yoshida plays drums on all tracks except for seven and twelve, which feature Kosuke Wakiyama and Yuma Abe, respectively.) ‘Yosoiki’ is the most poppy song. With an almost disco riff Nile Rodgers would be proud of and a catchy vocal hook, this is one of those tricot tracks that compels the listener to sing along phonetically. A funky bassline underpins ‘DeDeDe,’ stealing the spotlight at points. What’s so great about tricot is that the instruments are not only played equally impeccably, but get equal time to shine, too. True equality lives in this band.
Very little is wrong with ‘3.’ ‘Pork Side,’ a short interlude intended to break up the album, adds nothing and should have been cut. ‘Namu’ and its rather annoying vocal chant is another throwaway. But even on tracks such as these, tricot’s sheer talent is clear. Every note this band plays is valuable. As for the production of the album: it’s perfect. There’s a nice balance to the mix, and a very warm tone with natural, smooth-sounding top-end, such as on old jazz recordings. The mix isn’t squashed, either. Performances of this kind of dynamic virtuosity are often smothered by the loudness war but ‘3’ suffers no such fate. This is a record made for vinyl.
tricot may well be the best band in the world. They haven’t quite achieved their masterpiece with ‘3,’ but they’ve come close, and it’s only been five years since ‘T H E.’ Imagine them in another five.
tricot embark on a small European tour in August in support of ‘3’…
18 August – Dublin, Ireland, Whelan’s
19 August – Bristol, UK, ArcTangent Festival
21 August – Glasgow, UK, Broadcast
22 August – Leicester, UK, Firebug Bar
25 August – London, UK, Bush Hall
27 August – Brighton, UK, The Haunt
29 August – Cardiff, UK, Clwb Ifor Bach
30 August – Leeds, UK, Headrow House
01 Sept. – Southampton, UK, The Joiners
02 Sept. – Paris, France, Le Batofar
03 Sept. – Haarlem, Netherlands, Patronaat
08 Sept. – St. Gallen, Switzerland, Grabenhalle
09 Sept. – Innsbruck, Austria, P.m.k. Innsbruck