MUCC - Shangri-La


Run time: 54 minutes, 22 seconds
Number of tracks: 13

Written By: Rachel Yarwood
Release Date: 28th November 2012

Mr Liar
Arcadia ft. Daishi Dance
Nirvana (Album Edit)
The Bell At The End of The Line
Pure Black
Kyoran Kyosho - 21st Century Baby
Marry You
Night Sky Craypas
You & I

After the 2010 "Karma" album, which for some controversially combined disco and dance, we now have a new album that attempts to bring back some of the heavier and punk rock qualities that, until now, could have been a bygone era. 
MUCC's eleventh studio album "Shangri-La" does incorporate both the dance and electronic attributes that they have been playing around with lately, namely with one previous single in particular, but it also brings back something that we have not really heard from the band in a while. 

As "Mr Liar" begins we have a few seconds of club-style dance to contend with. However as this soon subsides and the band open fully with a heavy string rhythm (Miya - Guitar. Yukke - Bass) and beats of the drums (Satochi), followed closely by Tatsurou who starts his vocals with one fantastic growl, you certainly start to feel a rush of excitement.
The mixture of growls and screams, along with the more melodic vocals and the heavy metal influence of the instrumentations, are a great welcome but should we really relax so early on in the album? 
Amazingly, "G.G" follows in a similar suit with a lovely deep guitar rhythm and equally deep and bouncing bass lines. You do hear the synthesiser creeping back in as the song builds up towards the chorus, but the chorus itself is catchy and pleasing even introducing a bit of dubstep, however these both compliment the heavier rock element. 

The album then takes a slight nose dive as "Arcadia" opens after "G.G". This song is perhaps not the best to follow on from two heavier tracks, especially being one of the first few songs on the album, the sudden change of genre taking you by surprise. However you can appreciate what has been attempted here when you listen to the succession of the next two songs. It is undeniable that "Arcadia" does lead into "Nirvana" really well, and then "Nirvana" perfectly leads into "Honey", but the question of why "Arcadia" was specifically chosen to be the third track will remain. 

The genre takes a turn again with "Pure Black" but, unlike before, this time we can understand the direction that the band is going to. This track is probably the 'black sheep' of all the new material on the album but you can reminisce of their older indie material where previous albums, and single releases also, have seen the odd (or a couple) peculiar, jazzy and interesting musical gems.

"Shangri-La" starts to look most positive as we reach the half way marker. "Kyoran Kyosho - 21st Century Baby" opens with an interesting oriental guitar melody and harsh, heavy, vocal work until the chorus where the mood lightens and becomes especially lovely to listen to that you might even get a few goosebumps. This is possibly the moment where you realise that this is what you have been waiting for... and it only took seven songs to get to it.
It seems that the album has now achieved a home run. This half promotes the more melodic rock, with strong rhythms and drumming, quirky guitar melodies and resonant vocal work. Whilst "Marry You" is a nice, mid tempo, indie 'pop' rock song we also have the heaviness of "You & I" and the near ballad of "Mother" which will most likely be a favourite to sing along to during live performances.

The track "Shangri-La" then finishes the album with beautiful classical notes of cello and piano, combined with heavier elements from the drums and the guitar, and some gorgeous vocal work from Tatsurou which effortlessly switches tone to compliment the emotions behind the song. This song included, the whole tracklist has been well thought out with each piece leading on to the next with exceptional synchronicity. 

"Shangri-La" is definitely a breath of fresh air after their previous album and might prove to be a life line for many fans who were perhaps disappointed and unsure of where the band were heading. This album is right on track and should not be missed.