REVIEW: Tashaki Miyaki delivers gentle tunes in The Dream

Los Angeles-based trio Tashaki Miyaki uses its gentle guitar and smooth-as-silk voices in their debut album, The Dream, which will be released on April 7. Like many artists, the group is greatly inspired by the city that is its home; its musical style effectively conveys the sad beauty hidden in the crevices of Los Angeles.

Its music has been described as “soothing feelings of sadness and gut-wrenching despair” — an accurate depiction of the entire album. Tashaki Miyaki’s poetic lyrics, combined with hauntingly playful guitar melodies, create a somber yet settling listening experience. Tashaki Miyaki has the ability to cause the listener’s suppressed, emotive feelings to resurface, while still staying relaxed -— the beat encourages one to sway to the music.

In an interview with Vice, the band says that one of its greatest influences is Neil Young, fondly calling him “Uncle Neil.” The acoustic influences of Young are vividly clear in all its songs, especially in the constant guitar presence. The band members also cite Benmont Tench of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as a strong mentor.

Because of the chilling melodies that underlay the words, the lyrics in almost every song seem applicable to those with any sort of broken heart or disappointment. “Girls on TV” is a commentary on the L.A. phenomenon of creating a new identity to be universally liked, yet the lyrics “I don’t believe in anything / Won’t you please adore me?” can be applied to listeners of all ages and experiences.

Tashaki Miyaki’s well-received self-named EP established its presence in the acoustic-indie sector. With a few songs with the same lilting essence, the album seemed to be predictable and a relatively unexciting continuation of its EP. However, stumbling upon “Facts of Life,” which traded in the band’s acoustic sound for a heavier, more energetic electric guitar, makes it clear that this band has the potential to move beyond the melancholy melodies to which it is often attached. This aggressive, rock-pop song is the album’s equivalent of an angry, angsty teenager who wants to take control of their life. The brooding lyrics make a reappearance, the band singing, “You could’ve been first, but now you’re 16th in line. Oh my, we’re all going to die.”

“Keep Me in Mind” swings back across the pendulum to the soft-pop, conjuring the essence of a
melancholy Echosmith or Passenger. This track, along with “Facts of Life” and “LAPD,”
grazes the tip of the iceberg of the innovation and growth that the band is capable of producing. In the future, Tashaki Miyaki will be most successful if it continues to develop from its EP. The band has shown that it has the ability to be experimental, and successfully so, but if it doesn’t continue on the path of new and creative, the band could lose the interest of its fan base.

Imagine a flickering marquee sign on Sunset Boulevard — that is the visual aesthetic of Tashaki Miyaki and The Dream. Pulling directly from the blood and soul of Los Angeles, Tashaki Miyaki sings out these heartbroken ballads for the disillusioned. Not an everyday listen for most, The Dream is suitable for nights when all existential crises and dark thoughts come bubbling up.