Four years ago today, Haru Nemuri released her first full-length studio album: “Haru to Shura” (this is how I’ve most often seen it romanized). I only discovered this album in 2020, but I’ve been coming back to it a lot recently, as I look forward to the release of her second studio LP later this month. Especially recently, I’ve been struck by just how great much of this music is - to celebrate four years of Haru to Shura, I want to look through it and talk about why it’s so wonderful.
Haru Nemuri is a criminally underrated figure in the J-Pop scene - even since I’ve begun following her, she has consistently put out some of the most fun and creative music. This debut album, Haru to Shura, is an amazing introduction to her music. It is not, however, Haru Nemuri’s first step into music. Her actual first ‘album’ is an EP called “Sayonara, Yuusufobia”, and it was released in 2016. It’s surprisingly difficult to find this album online - according to Haru, the reason for this is its amateur sound and songwriting. Her earliest project that is still available to listen to, on the other hand, is Atom Heart Mother, an EP released in 2017, one year before this album. From her beginnings as an artist, to Atom Heart Mother, which is an interesting, yet flawed album, and on to Haru to Shura, Haru Nemuri showed immense personal progress and ability, which is demonstrated in the complete sounds of this, her debut album. Four years later, and her music here is still just as unique and powerful.
First of all, it’s hard to define this album to a single genre, but I was first introduced to it hearing that it was J-Pop. J-Pop is a great, expansive genre, and it describes many of my favorite artists; knowing this, what surprised me most about Haru to Shura upon first listen was just how unique it sounds, especially in the context of the genres it seems to fall under. J-Pop, Noise Pop, and Hip Hop are all examples of what I’ve seen this album described as, but really, it’s a unique, experimental blend of some of the best that each genre has to offer. One of the most notable aspects of Haru to Shura that makes it stand out is Haru’s singing and speaking. Even though I don’t speak the same language, with many of the tracks here, the emotions and messages behind them are still able to shine through in Haru’s vocals - I agree with @fakeplasticrose; this album’s music is absolutely enjoyable, even with the language barrier. I’ve seen her described as a ‘poetry rapper’, which is a pretty accurate description; many of her vocals are powerful and bring life to the songs. Especially in songs like the title track, “Haru to Shura”, where the unique vocals take the form of shouting and speaking, which gives the song its own unique feeling. These vocals, combined with the great instrumentals, are what makes this album unique, even in Haru’s own discography - and they complement each other incredibly. Every song seems like another powerful build-up of emotion and music.
And if you’re wondering where the ‘noise pop’ genre applies on this album, you only need to listen to the first three seconds of the album to find out. The instrumentals on Haru to Shura are incredibly consistent, with fuzzy, distorted guitar tones carrying on through each track. Part of the reason I love this album so much is because of the atmosphere created by the noisy instrumentals - it’s a little like shoegaze, but with so much more energy. The first two tracks display the great energy of this album perfectly - “MAKE MORE NOISE OF YOU” is such a perfect opening track! While it’s short, Haru’s repeated shouting over the guitar riffs in the instrumental demonstrates her energy exhibited in the album. “narashite” is one of her more popular songs from the album, which isn’t all that surprising; the song contains one of the catchiest, most fun sections of music ever. It’s also an example of the tracks on Haru to Shura building up in power as they go, as it slowly increases to “DISTORTION, DISTORTION” repeated at the end. What I really love about this album, though, is in its more experimental, stranger moments. Halfway through the title track, while the instrumental becomes more powerful, it also seems to speed up, until it comes to a total stop. I love it! I do also love the “zzz” interludes - the glitchy piano in the first one is beautiful, and fits surprisingly well with the rest of the album. That’s another thing worth mentioning - everything on this album flows together so smoothly, even the last “zzz”, which is just silence, seems to fit perfectly as an ending, just bringing everything to a close.
There’s a lot to love about Haru to Shura, but the one thing that has to be mentioned - the songs are all so catchy, and have such a great energy about them! I wouldn’t really describe any of the tracks here as ‘forgettable’, as each one brings something new and wonderful to the album. From the ‘distortion’ chorus in “narashite” to Haru’s quick yelling in the bridge of “sekaiwotorikaeshiteokure”, every song has at least one moment that surprises me; this album would absolutely be great to see live. There’s so much on it that it’s hard to describe it all. “yoruwooyoideta” has a uniquely mostly-electronic instrumental, and has an awesome buildup throughout. Haru’s yelling vocals in the chorus of “underground” are amazing! The repeated chorus at the end of “rock ‘n’ roll wa shinanai with totsuzenshounen” is a perfect ending to the album! Listening through Haru to Shura is an energetic experience - each song is a new, great anthem, and it combines to make one of the best noise pop (?) albums I’ve heard.
Haru Nemuri’s debut album is a gem of noisy, fun J-Pop. Her emotions bleed through in each track, and there are moments throughout the album that are just mindblowingly great - it’s a quick and energetic listen! It’s aged well over 4 years, but what I look forward to the most is seeing how Haru’s sound will change with her next album. I’ve heard all of the singles so far, and it’s clear that she is experimenting even more with her music and taking it in more directions; everything that has happened since the release of Haru to Shura has impacted her newer sound, it seems. This album, Haru to Shura, is a piece of art, and I’m only excited to see what she will create next.
Awesome album!!! It’ll take you by surprise. Maybe not as much as her next one will, though.
Favorite Songs: MAKE MORE NOISE OF YOU, Narashite, Haru to Shura, Sekaiwotorikaeshiteokure, Rock ‘n’ Roll wa shinanai with totsuzenshounen
Least Favorite Songs: zzz pt. ii, zzz pt. iii