The Routes are an Oita, Japan-based three-piece consisting of Chris Jack (bass, vocals, bass, organ, percussion) with Shinichi Nakayama (drums), and Toru Nishimuta (bass). Jack is the brain child of the band, which has released a handful of records traversing sounds of punk, R&B, garage rock, psyche rock, and surf punk. No matter the lineup, Jack brings something different to each Routes album.
On the band’s latest offering, ‘In This Perfect Hell,’ the trio are in rip roaring’ shape, with 1960s mod hippie and psyche rock coursing through their collective instruments. Fuzzed out guitars, distorted organs, rumbling bass and reverbed drenched vocals all play a major part in the new 10-song release.
From start to finish, the band’s fifth album is straightforward and unmistakably the Routes, with Jack’s wailing, sometimes ragged vocals hovering over the music. Though the instrumentation is vastly stripped down to its key elements, the sound Jay and company get is filled with layers of fuzz and feedback. “Worry” sounds like it could be the cover of a long lost Tamrons acetate, being played by the Fall. You have catchy, up-tempo, lyrically playful numbers like “Peeling Face” and “Housework in My Head” sounding like the Kinks meet the Modern Lovers. “Something Slipped Through My Window” and “Oblivious” again see the band in fine songwriting form, with the Routes’ Acetone organ resurrected.
If you sit back and listen to the Routes’ ‘In This Perfect Hell’ without prejudice and close your eyes, you might see lava lamps in the background and carpets made of shag while people chill out in moon chairs and bean bags taking tokes off the bong. Sit back and enjoy the ride, we could use a little peace in times like these.