Good Cake, the new release from Toronto’s Akage No Anne, is a wild ride. The band’s members- Yoshihide Nakajima, Fran Copelli, Tom Dunbar, and Bill Bedford- channel their inner pastel coloured souls in an attempt to communicate something a bit heavier. The 80’s Japanese aesthetic seems to be everywhere right now. It started to seep in from the fringes of vaporwave and internet culture to slowly soak into everything present in the musical underground. The four track release gives you plenty of this as Akage No Anne combines the goofy sounds of drum machines with ballad style lyrics to create a sound that is unusual, to say the least. But certainly not bad.
This release is about a break-up, and fundamentally about barriers. Barriers between us and others, us and ourselves, and the musician and listener. Upon the first few listens, what really stood out was the kind of ironic disguise. The whole album seems to be stemming from the concept of something meant to come off as self-aware, but is really only doing so as a sort of defence mechanism. Akage No Anne shifts from half-joking towards vulnerable and serious and back constantly throughout the release, the samples and synthesizers often adding the humorous element in while the guitars and lyrics anchor our attentions back to the emotional centre.
We are introduced to the EP by the title track through the echoing bounce and smooth timbre of synthesizers slowly building with the addition of a drum machine. Eventually a guitar chimes in, and that’s when the first shift towards an introspective album is clear, the vocals about breaking up and leaving each other close behind. It is a gradual start from the first impression of being a groovy mindless release into what makes up the majority of the album, stories of tough memories and the fear of loneliness.
“Robot Philosophies” is an amazing track about the need to be on your own, but the fear of the total freedom and lack of direction that comes with it. The titular robot’s “life has meaning when the lights go green” – they only safe when they are in the company of someone they feel comfortable giving themselves over to, not able to withstand the idea of being alone and having no one to be controlled by.
Good Cake closes out with the “Play”, which strikes me as a love song, coming full circle into no longer being alone, but instead the opposite conflict that occurs when feelings are too one sided. It completes an album arc about break-ups and barriers, as the release touches on love, control, alienation, and loneliness.
On Good Cake‘s Bandcamp page, each track’s info is a little poem of sorts, which perfectly fits into the idea of using ironic humour or aloofness as a cover for legitimate emotions. Each liner note gives you an initially confusing yet intriguing introduction to the song. I found the more I listened to each track the more I could piece together what Akage No Anne was trying to convey with each piece of writing. I think that they are definitely worth a read, if only to get a glimpse into the mysterious and conflicted world of Akage No Anne.
Top Track: “Robot Philosophies”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)