“They all try to keep up while we fuck this shit up,” sings guest vocalist M33sh in the break of Japan Air, the second track of Anamanaguchi’s Endless Fantasy. It’s a pretty accurate way of capturing the New York chiptune four-piece’s mission statement. Evolving from 2006 EP Power Supply through to scoring the game adaptation of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, the band has become the go-to example of successful mainstream chip music.
What they create is a combination of pop-rock and dance music, incorporating drums, basses and electric guitars, but leading the melodic charge is a set-up of Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy consoles loaded with software that creates noises and beats lifted from the retro games of yesteryear. It’s an explosive and incredibly energetic combination with a lot of room for experimentation, as Fantasy proves.
Anamanaguchi’s second shot at a full release, following 2009’s Dawn Metropolis, is an accomplished album of excellent tunes, and feels like the real climax to a stagnated journey lasting more than half a decade. There’s no second album syndrome here. If anything, Endless Fantasy is the album equivalent of performing a first arena tour. It’s grandiose and aspires to astronomical notions - and reaches them with great success.
It’s a jumpy, hyperactive little twerp twirling glow sticks and raiding the blue M&Ms. The band charges through tracks like Echobo on a demented sugar-rush before crashing and taking five on slower, dreamier soundscapes like Planet. When singers do crop up, as Bianca Raquel does on Prom Night and on the aforementioned Japan Air, they’re an explosion of rainbow bubblegum across an instrumental Milky Way of supernovas. There’s no right way of describing a track on Endless Fantasy without using a noun or adjective irrefutably linked to joy or happiness. Everything on this album simply exists to be enjoyed.
It’s a beast of an album, too, clocking in a a colossal 76 minutes. Within that time Anamanaguchi surf the musical waves of feline choirs (Meow), create would-be tributes to sci-fi soundtracks (Akira) and even find time to space out with the closest a Game Boy can come to sounding romantic (U n ME). Appropriately, everything explodes on Everything Explodes, a furious assault of real and synthesized beats strewn over gloriously jolly melodies. There’s even enough time for pleasant, short interludes: Total Tea Time wouldn’t sound out of place on a high score table of an Eighties arcade game.
There’s much to love about Endless Fantasy. The titles toe the fine line between eccentric and hip, falling in line with their Weird Twitter tendencies. The final track, (T-T)b, might as well come loaded on a DVD with scrolling album credits - it even has an epilogue of sorts, read by YouTube type Hamish “The Illusion” Patterson. There’s no spot on the album left untouched by production, no moment which could be any more grand than it is, no sweet spot left untuned. Endless Fantasy is the album Anamanaguchi set out to make when they first came together, and if there’s one sticking point it’s this: they’ve set the bar pretty high for Album Number Three.