Fukuoka is known for generating some of the most creative rock of the archipelago—think Number Girl and Sheena Ringo. Without relocating to Tokyo like the above, trio Miu Mau are generating accolades all over. A listen to their new single “Monochrome” reveals why. Over jelly synths and airtight drums, singer Masami Takashima casts a spell with a voice that’s at once clear as bell and emotive—a welcome antidote to the simpering songstresses that dominate whatever now passes for Japan’s “airwaves.”
Sung in English, the video for “Monochrome” traces the lonely, ennui-filled “monochrome weekend” of a typical (if atypically lovely) young Japanese woman. “The concept for each of our songs is different,” Takashima says by email. “The best description of our overall approach might be, ‘new wave/experimental/indie-rock/breakbeats/ world/disco.’” However you want to describe the musical formula of Miu Mau (“cat’s tail” in Finnish), they’ve hit on the right combination of artfulness and pop.
The B-side of the single, “Haru wa Kaoru Spring,” is equally compelling, skirting the line of dub and electro without quite being either. Takashima, who moved from Kumamoto to Fukuoka to create a band, says bandmates Hiromi Kajiwara’s “cool looks” on guitar and drummer Miwako Matsuda’s “rock solid” beats made her realize instantly that they were the vehicle for her musical vision.
From their base in Fukuoka—a move to Tokyo is definitely not in the cards—the trio has dreams of one day touring abroad. But if not, they tell Metropolis that in a decade they’ll be the “coolest obasan” around.