While Erin Rose Hubbard and David James Martinez have known each other for a couple of years—and played music together throughout that time—their band only formed in Vancouver in January of this year. From the Japanese word for bicycle or bike, Jitensha are aptly named for their desire to continue searching for inspiration and their determination to travel while playing, along with their speed.
Given the truncated timeline, it’s shocking that their debut album—successor to their February EP—is out already. Buck Moon doesn’t sound like the result of five months work. There’s a comfort and familiarity between Hubbard and Martinez that some bands spend years creating. At the same time, the production value of the final product is shocking considering the ensemble’s youthfulness.
The album opens without hesitation on “White Noise,” leaping into the lighthearted pseudo-surfer rock with a bouncing rhythm that hops along with Hubbard’s soprano. Martinez takes a secondary role on this track, a back and forth that is evocative of Toronto’s HIGHS.
The pair swap frontman duties on the following song, “’Cause I Wanna” as Martinez’ vocals add some rock edge to the indie mix. “You Don’t Own Me” and “On a Cloud” add even more of a spring to their beat, reveling in the punchy drums and chords while daintily dancing through the darker lyrics on “You Don’t Own Me.”
Halfway through, “Raven” marks a transition as the vocals, hinting at darker notes with quieter, smoother voices. “Big Talk” strips things back to an acoustic guitar and Martinez’s soothing voice for a folk-tinted shift that pairs neatly with the repetition of “we all fall down” in the chorus.
“Chasing the Sun” finds a midway point between the two sounds that dominate the album, a blending that shows the strides the band have made since their EP. The surprisingly slow and simple ending moves neatly into the final song. “Gospel Blues” lives up to its name by evoking a quiet, country feel as Hubbard and Martinez trade back and forth on vocals, reigning in their upbeat voices one last time to find that sweet spot for a memorable closer.
As with their EP, Jitensha shift back and forth between dance-inspired indie and pensive folk tracks that feel perfectly in line with their given dreamer descriptor. Buck Moon begs that kind of indulgence, willing you to move between the two moods as seamlessly as they do—and given the enthusiasm and charm they inflect each song with, it’s impossible to resist.
Top Tracks: “On a Cloud”; “Chasing the Sun”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)