Release Date: Jun 4, 2013
Record label: Carpark Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Noise Pop
Yoodoo Park (aka GRMLN) showed a great deal of promise on his 2012 debut EP, Explore. Across 15 short minutes, the southern California via Kyoto, Japan musician demonstrated a knack for dreamily catchy guitar pop tunes — perfect complements to nice weather, as song titles like "Summer Nights" and "Patio" indicated. None of Explore's seven songs quite made it to the three-minute mark, but they still managed to make a point, suggesting great potential for Park should his ambitions expand beyond the confines of his mother's garage.
Explore, Yoodoo Park's debut EP as GRMLN, was a wistful set of songs that had the bittersweet cast of summer's end, but on his first full-length, Empire, he trades that melancholy sound for a bright, active one that draws on '90s punk-pop. Out of all the styles from that decade -- grunge, shoegaze, trip-hop -- that found new life in the late 2000s and early 2010s, punk-pop remains fairly unexplored territory, and so Empire manages to sound nostalgic and relatively fresh at the same time. Contemporaries such as Cloud Nothings, Male Bonding, and Wavves have dipped their toes into these waters, and songs like "Blue Lagoon" and "Do You Know How It Feels" recall the work of those bands.
Empire is the debut album release for GRMLN, a project from Japanese-born/California-raised Yoodoo Park. Having built up a reputation with the release of last year’s EP Explore, Park has cast aside the dreamy surf-pop of that release in order to capture a live, rock and roll sound, expanding GRMLN to a trio in order to best encapsulate that energy. Although the album had a short gestation period of just a few days and is a relatively brief affair (clocking in at less than 24 minutes), Yoodoo & co manage to do some interesting things with the standard rock arrangement.
Southern California’s Yoodoo Park, alias GRMLN, may have been born in Japan but the sound on his debut album Empire is entirely that of his adopted home: upbeat, no-frills garage-rock with a dreamy, summery edge that seems to speak of baking hot, graffiti-strewn concrete skateparks and open-top road trips along palm tree-lined boulevards. Barely out of his teens, the Kyoto-via-Orange County surfer writes music about the youthfulness and lazy summers that he knows best, with titles like Coastal Love and Summer Days, Teenage Rhythm and 1993 (named after the scarily recent year of his birth) appearing among the nine songs that make up the record. At only 23 minutes long, Empire is short but sweet, over almost before you realise.
On last year’s Explore EP, southern California transplant Yoodoo Park crafted a set of seven tunes perfect for a mid-afternoon stroll, exploring the pleasant surroundings. But on his latest LP under the GRMLN moniker, Empire, he’s found out where all the fun places are, and he’s ready to go directly to them. Accordingly, the bedroom guitar pop is cranked up to a nostalgic ’90s pop punk energy.