Mini-Album Review: 空から降る一億の星 from plenty (Japanese Indie Rock)

plenty was a Japanese Indie rock band that formed in 2004 and officially disbanded in 2017. There were three members when they disbanded—Fumiya Enuma (vocals, guitar), Noriaki Nitta (bass), and Itta Nakamura (drums). I discovered them via my cousin who had the pleasure of seeing them perform live in Japan during his visit a few years ago. I fell in love with the vocals and their musical style almost instantaneously. Today, I’d like to review their mini-album, 空から降る一億の星, which was my introduction to their work.

plenty members

空から降る一億の星, or “A Million Stars Falling From the Sky,” was released in November 2014 via the label Headphone Music Label. The album utilises a very interesting mixture of genres such as Indie rock, alternative, and emo with a sprinkling of Indie pop and blues rock. Their miniature album, along with the unique vocal range, does a marvellous job of blending the different genres together to create a sound that is stunningly original.

When I first sat down and listened to their album from beginning to end, I immediately thought of the White Stripes, specifically their more blues rock work. There was something very evocative yet melancholy about the way they strung together the drums and guitar, which stood out even more when the bass became more prevalent throughout certain songs. I wanted to lay my head back and get wholly lost in the music and I did exactly that.

空から降る一億の星 by plenty

Their music is deceptively powerful and brilliantly captivating, particularly with Fumiya Enuma’s vocals. The androgynous voice is versatile to fit just about any genre that they put out, whether it’s more emo and alternative with a heavier tune, or softer and subdued to match the mood of blues rock. The India pop tracks also surprised me because the depth of their voice was able to capture the essence of more rounded, higher pitches typical of the pop genre.

Enuma pulls you into the track almost immediately, no matter what it is, and never allows you to escape. I became so enthralled by their presence that I didn’t want it to end. Their ability to preserve their range and power for very specific moments in a song were quite impressive and is what contributes to those feelings of being entirely immersed.

Some of my favourite tracks off the album include: 手紙 (Letter), ぼくがヒトであるなら (If I were a human being), パンク (Punk), and 見知らぬ朝 (A strange morning) as they do a remarkable job of exhibiting their genre-bending and the talents of the vocal range. Plus, the lyrics for these songs are so exquisite!

手紙 is all Indie rock and emo with it’s drum-roll intro and stringed complements. This is one of those songs that slipped into my mind and my heart with how evocative it felt. Through the singing, I could feel sadness, longing, and regret. Being the first track on the mini-album, it sets the listener up for being mesmerised from the very start.

“Whenever the words I failed to tell you come to mind
A sentiment snuggling up to me affably
I should not throw it away but hold onto it
And set off wishing our paths will cross”

ぼくがヒトであるなら falls more into the Indie pop range with its electric accompaniment. It reminded me a lot of Japanese city pop, particularly from the late 70s and 80s. There is something very cheery and upbeat about the balance of drums and electronic rhythm. The brief sections where the bass strums stand-out really gave the song a nice, full-bodied feel and helped balance out the more pop-heavy portions. What really amazed me about ぼくがヒトであるなら the most is how ironic it is. The music is a deception to the meaning, especially if you don’t really speak or understand Japanese. It revolves around self-loathing and a desire to be better, while feeling empty and lonely; topics that are typical to plenty’s works.

“While thinking of someone
While doubting myself
Even so I want to try to live
If I were a human being 

Like this   I won’t let it go
Even such an ugly body
Because to someone it means… To someone…
Like this   I won’t let it go
Even such a fragile life
Until I myself throw it away
I want to be alive”

パンク is a very short song and the one that stands out the most as being comparable to the Ramones and Sex Pistols. It’s very much punk, almost like an ode to the genre (which is evident by the title of the song, Punk). The sound is fast-paced and a bit retro as well.

Lastly, we have 見知らぬ朝, which showcases the band’s signature Indie rock focus with blues rock complement. Out of the entire album, this is the song that felt the most profound to me. The melancholy that radiates from this—that blues feeling, if you will—is haunting. The music matches the lyrics so harmoniously as to be masterful. After listening to all seven songs, 見知らぬ朝 is the one that stuck with me the most. It lingers in the back of your mind and ultimately draws you back to it time and time again.

“I don’t know where it was
I don’t know it was right beside me
I want to feel happiness for once
Especially today…
Especially tomorrow…
…Is it just an illusion? 

Feeling dull and empty…
A morning I’m tired of
A morning I’m tired of
Towards me, a gentle voice
A strange morning
A strange morning”

plenty is such a supremely talented and understated band. It saddens me that they are no longer together as I can envision the potential of their work.

If you are a fan of Indie rock and emo, as well as Indie pop and some blues rock, then I highly recommend that you check out plenty, especially their mini-album: 空から降る一億の星, as it’s one of their best releases.

You can find their full discography and lyrics for all songs here.

Nyan is an eccentric blogger at BiblioNyan, where they prattle passionately about books, otaku culture, Asian cinema, and mental health. You can find ’em in Tweetland and Instageek. 🤘🏾🤘🏾

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