Autobiographical Order No. 492: Japan – Quiet Life

OK, folks, we’ve made it to 2016! I wonder what fun surprises it’ll have in store—wait, what’s that? …oh, dear GOD…

I don’t really know who had a good 2016. Well, I know one person, and I hope he has a horrible 2020, but otherwise most people I know and probably most people I don’t know would probably want to write that one off as a never-revisit-again scenario. I can’t even tell you how many musical heroes of mine died in that one year. And we’re going to talk about it pretty soon. And I’m probably not going to enjoy doing it, but this is the point of this whole blog—to air my feelings through my records.

Then there was the whole election thing. That was…rough. Still is! But on top of that everything else was really weird. Work stuff was weird. Life stuff was weird. I dunno, I was either in a fog or just really irritated for most of the year. Some cool things happened—my band actually became a thing! That was cool!—but by and large it’s a year I wouldn’t want to revisit. Some people say this year is worse—and hey, it’s hard to beat a plague! But I dunno, I think I’m at least psychologically dealing with everything better now.

Of course, at the beginning of the year I had no idea it’d be such a disaster. So I went about my business crate digging, buying this underrated Japan record. I’ve come to realize over the years that David Sylvian is an absolutely brilliant songwriter, and his work beyond Japan is well worth exploring. But that band had a great run of records in the late ’70s and early ’80s, this being one of them.

Back when I bought Gentlemen Take Polaroids, I did so without ever having heard Japan. Which, I mean, I’m kind of proud of myself for that. Old dudes get nostalgic about going to the record and buying something based on the cover alone, and I doubt I’ve known many people who have actually done anything like that. I’ve done it a few times, but by and large that’s just not how most people shop for music. (I don’t count DJs or producers, necessarily, who use that curiosity for creative purposes. Just talkin’ consumers here.)

Quiet Life is kind of the perfect middle point between the band’s earlier glam period and their later art rock/new romantic evolution, and it grooves. There’s a bit of Moroder-style disco (and Japan did collaborate with Giorgio Moroder, just sayin’), a Velvet Underground cover, all kinds of good stuff. The title track is probably my favorite, but there are gems throughout. Great record, you can find it pretty inexpensive, go get it, endorsed.

So I guess I had a good moment of blissful ignorance before 2016 decided to do its thing. That’s something.

Rating: 9.0

Sound Quality: Great

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