Insecteens - Man of Nature
You know him as the guitarist for local rock veterans 甜梅號 Sugar Plum Ferry. Now get to know Insecteens as a solo artist. You'll be glad you did.
His debut is a beautifully packaged little box of joy. Within it, a carefully arranged booklet of photos and lyrics, a mini-poster, and a sticker (and mine came with 4 postcards featuring his own illustrations of complementing insects and guitars, as well) support a gem of a disc. It's a really great collection of songs.
One's first question may be, does it sound like Sugar Plum Ferry? Well, yeah, a bit. But is that bad? Not at all. An artist's style is his/her style. There are no surprises in that regard. When some musicians release a solo album, it could very possibly be esoteric experiments or dabblings, but not these 13 songs. What we get here is fully formed, mature rock. While SPF explore the hills and valleys and varying terrain of instrumental rock, Insecteens builds on these well-established sensibilities, focusing here on the virtues of verse/chorus songwriting. As it turns out, he excels at that, too.
Although I've found the phrase "indie rock" to be lacking when attempting to describe a particular band's sound (it's more of an ethos, as I understand it), for me there are still qualities I identify with indie rock - certain chords, melodic tendencies, arrangements, techniques, and timbres. For me, that "sound" is realized in the 90's bands of Touch and Go records or Dinosaur Jr, Yo La Tengo, Bob Mould... Insecteens' music follows in this path, proving equal to his influences and peers.
The album gets off to a quick start, as 小市民 Citizen Doolittle and 班馬線 Zebra Crossing waste no time in being awesome, especially the noisy guitars on the latter tune. As with those, the next tracks, 打敗我 Beat Me and 老房子 Old Houses offer simple, catchy choruses bouncing between your ears. He knows how to create hooks. You'll be singing along before the end of each.
蘇羊公園 The Sooyoung Park is a funny title acknowledging the great guitarist/songwriter, but other tracks feel more Seam-like to me, like 510 寢室 Dorm Room 510 or 早安！Q 先生 Morning, Mr.Q!. 蘭姆酒 Rum does, too. It's a soaring number but I kinda wish the lead guitars were mixed just a bit more upfront when he starts going off during the solo. Insecteens voice is soft yet assured throughout the disc, yet on 蘭姆酒 Rum it feels like it pushes its limit. Why pick on this song? Because it has a large and ambitious feeling and I want it to succeed. It's sooo close to perfect. But still, it's really, really good, as is 這種方式 Such Way (Of Yours), a tender, beautiful mid-tempo piece towards the end of the album.
What more can I write? Just open a thesaurus to the word "great" and know that all the variations listed below it apply to 自然人 Man Of Nature. This is a virtually flawless disc. Solid musicianship, solid performance, solid songwriting, solid production. Buy it.
Sugar Plum Ferry Gigs
Gig Reviews: Sugar Plum Ferry + Insecteens + Bowz Tiger