Hot on the heels of their debut album and ANV7 entry, Inu’s recent song is a punchy pop-rock jam. A digital headbanger crafted with love.
Inu’s music is a special blend of clean sound design with layers of guitar rhythms and drums – it always feels like a breath of fresh air. Recently, this sort of atmosphere, popularised by Porter Robinson’s “Nurture”, has been coined “botanica”. Inu’s latest single, “without me around” is by far their most compact and refined version of their artistic vision.
Every chorus enters with a new key-change, in a high-octane energetic explosion. No matter how many times you listen, you’re never quite ready for it. The song seems to be interpolating the chord progression from Pachelbels’ “Canon in D”. I wouldn’t have guessed that inspiration would come from the Baroque era, but it sounds so perfect in this collection of modern samples and instruments. It’s a surprisingly upbeat song considering the chorus starts with “I’m better off dead”, but that sort of juxtaposition seems to be the best way to keep your head up in 2022.
I think the key theme behind these lyrics is revival. The song’s lyrics revolve around natural imagery juxtaposed with the death of the singer. The first half of the song uses the lines “the rain won’t stop”, “the bouquet was dead” and “it doesn’t matter if it never ends” over and over again, repeating these ideas with every revolution of key. That is, until we reach the final chorus – where they are inverted. “I won’t let the flowers die”, “the rain has stopped”, and even “will bring me back to life”.
I didn’t notice for a while, but everything about this song is built upon this hope for revival – the nature imagery, the ever-revolving chorus and key changes: even the re-use of Pachelbel’s Canon in D is a revival of something old, given new breath. In truth, Pachelbel died in obscurity, with his Canon in D only being rediscovered around 1970, and from that point blooming into one of the most recognisable chamber pieces in the world.
The song was released in winter – the darkest and coldest season of the year (at least in this hemisphere). It’s easy to fall into gloomy thoughts and shut yourself in, and with the initial dark tone of the song I’m sure Inu understands this well. But more importantly, they understand that this is part of a larger cycle! Like the fall of rain, the death and rebirth of flowers – winter will end and spring will bloom. Within the story of “without me around”, the singer’s reason to keep waiting for revival is music itself. You can feel Inu’s love for music in the lines ”it was your song that made me feel so much better” and “the melody that plays runs through my head… I wanna stay a little longer”. Inu has a lot of love for the art form they work within, and this latest song seems to be about the ways music can reach others and keep us going when things are tough. Even their usage of the once-forgotten Pachelbel’s Canon in D illustrates this – especially since that song laid the groundwork for a lot of current popular music pieces.
Returning to the beat: the drums have some real grit to them, punching through the mix with room to spare. It’s hard to put this kind of feeling into words, but Inu’s music always feels very box-like. Everything is aligned to the beat perfectly, and the volumes are always consistent. It’s sort of robotic in a way, but it comes across like perfectly-oiled machinery. I love the part in the second verse where the Bass guitar comes in – I still can’t tell whether it’s a synth bass or a real bass. The breakdown after the second chorus shows more of Inu’s true colours – with sampled drums and chopped vocals harkening back to their earlier sound. Something admirable about their music is the consistency in tone – regardless of genre or instrument choice, every song feels like a walk through a forest. Maybe this is the botanica influence, but something about Inu’s music feels so organically alive! The guitars and vocals are held high in the mix – they feel airy and fresh, and with every revolution of the chorus they only get clearer. It feels like a strong tailwind pushing you onwards.
I didn’t initially expect “without me around” to be so uplifting, and it took me a couple listens to finally clock the real meaning of the song. It released at the perfect time, and I’m glad Inu found the energy to give fans a little boost of energy and cheer. The mixture of new and old, digital and analogue, and hope and despair truly feels inspiring without being patronising. It’s something we can really believe in. If you’re looking for more of their addicting sound, they’re very active in the Japanese hyperpop scene – their collaborations on their Album “Reminder” are a good place to dive in.
Listen to “without me around” here.
Follow Inu on Twitter, Soundcloud, Spotify and Apple Music.
– Gray (@polygoncove)