Late teenage years are the age of self-discovery, peak creativity, and sadly mental traumas and issues too. Australian artist Minami Deguchi encapsulates some of these adolescent struggles in his debut album “Sirens And Stalkers”. In just under 30 minutes, the album spans nine tracks (8 songs and an intro) with many different influences and styles. Let’s dig deep into Minami’s creative diary and see what he has in store for us.
The intro track, Breaking News!, starts with a clean guitar chord progression that sounds like a harp. There is a phone call with an intermission that tells the news of a kid that was found dead due to behaviors like obsession and self-hate, and this intermission sums up the lyrical themes covered in most of this album. The second track, Controlled, begins with pummeling drums and the lyric “I took a bullet for my valentine” and right then and there you know this is a love letter to 2000s Rock. The song’s fast-paced verses intertwine with the relatively slower pre-chorus and the chorus where the guitar harmonizes with the vocals in a slick word-painting fashion. Another 2000s aesthetic I truly loved here is the duality of clean vocals and growls which is a staple of Metalcore and a very popular 2000s gimmick. What stands out here though is Minami’s emotional delivery and the way he stretches out the pronunciation of some words making them sound more painful. The following track, Last Night, is a collaboration with Malin Atkins, and it has another larger-than-life chorus that feels like it could be sung by the audience in a sold-out stadium show. This song is less heavy than the previous one and shows some typical Alternative rock/pop-punk vibes. The chorus has some more word painting with the guitars and voices harmonizing on a “woaah” sound, and then it repeats once more during the guitar solo which made this song super catchy and memorable.
Please Me is a duet with Jemma Killen who sings her verse in a very tender and playful way, contrasting beautifully with some more growls and screams. The song represents both viewpoints of a very toxic relationship and when it reaches its climax after the bridge, it hits us with a very melodic guitar solo that majestically closes the song. All These Lies is a piano ballad that serves as a breather between the heavier tracks, but definitely not a break from the several emotional gut punches that Minami has given up to this point. The lyrics are the most beautiful aspect of this track, as it’s written like a three-verse poem. I love how Minami’s nasality and wailing voice carry the emotional weight of these heartbreaking lyrics in a very bittersweet way. Hold Your Apologies returns back to the 2000s Hard Rock heaviness of the first half of the album. The bass tone was rich and thumpy on this one and it made me (violently) bang my head and have a little concert of my own with it in my room. It seems like Minami hasn’t only captured emotions through the lyrics, but also through the creative songwriting choices that move the listeners into that same 2000s headspace that he intended to replicate (and successfully did so).
The seventh track, Stalker, has a very aggressive-sounding combination of Hard Rock, Punk Rock, and Melodic Metalcore elements. It’s almost as if you got Green Day, BFMV, and Pierce The Veil in the same jamming room to write a song together for you. Between that marriage of genres and styles though, there lies a very distinct musical personality that Minami Deguchi has made for himself and it can be heard during the song’s masterful chorus, growls, and melodic guitar solo. Romeo Killed Julliet is another ballad, based on the acoustic guitar rather than the piano this time, which blew my mind away. It seems like Minami likes to keep his ballads on the more ambiguous side, while the heavier and more forward-sounding songs have more forward lyrics, and this is what’s brilliant about him. I don’t know many 21st-century lyric writers who can come up with poetry such as:
“Romeo killed Juliet a sleeping potion
Love can be a broadway in a theatre of pain
But a script isn’t given to everybody
Actors forced to improvise and make mistakes..”
The eighth and final song, Screaming Sirens (Her Voice II), begins with some electronic percussions and a voice over the phone saying “Hello?” to which there is no reply – probably a continuation of the same phone call that was in the intro track. Distorted guitars, bass, and drums join shortly after and Minami sings half of the verses in his clean voice and the second half goes back and forth between growls and high-pitched belts. It’s amazing how he can change vocal registers so effortlessly and powerfully. This song has my favorite guitar solo of all the ones on the album. The lyrics conclude the story of the toxic relationship, the fear, the obsession, and all the struggles we heard of in previous songs. After all the diverse elements I’ve heard here and the authenticity of Minami’s emotions and lyrics, I will leave you guys with the lyrics of the song’s bridge and let them speak for themselves and their greatness.
“Is this the price I’ll pay, for being who I was?
The whiskey shots, the bedroom floor
Has stained my heart, like a trauma, while she will easily
The guitar solo plays after this bridge, followed by one more chorus before the song beautifully closes with the same chord progression at the start of the song. What a powerful ending to a marvelous and dense journey in the form of a 26-minute album.