toe “Now I See The Light” (REVIEW)

Since bursting onto the scene in 2000, toe have carved out a unique niche, blending an eclectic mix of pop, post-rock, math-rock, jazz, and R&B. Their 2005 debut album, “The Book About My Idle Plot on a Vague Anxiety”, made waves in the instrumental and experimental music world, breaking post-rock norms with a more hardcore intensity and intricate compositions.

But now toe are back with their first new music since 2018’s “Our Latest Number” and their fourth album, “Now I See The Light” is a testament to their evolution. This record bridges their past and present, showcasing a newfound vigor. The signature elements fans adore are still here from the beginning on opener “風と記憶”, but with a more refined and contemplative edge.

“Loneliness Will Shine” brings a hypnotic acoustic and vocal vibe which continues to build before seamlessly transitioning into “Todo y Nada” with its pulsating bass lines and that signature toe guitar sound which is instantly recognisable. The result is a meticulously crafted journey through their old sound while embracing a whole new ethos to great effect.

“Who Knows” brings more synth-led interludes and electronic flair, coupled with delightful vocal harmonies. toe’s playful side emerges in “Close to You” where fat bass lines carry you through this mesmerizing track. “キアロスクーロ” delivers a nostalgic nod to toe’s earlier days, while “サニーボーイ・ラプソディ” features subtle yet incredible drumming by Kashikura with the track all finding its collective groove before closing out in a triumph. The acoustic guitar and reversed strings of interlude “Madness Summer” set the stage for the grand finale, “Now I See The Light” which starts with delicate vocals from Hirokazu and morphs musically into an almost hip-hop-inspired masterpiece which shows the maturation of their craft over the years.

Photo credit : Yoshiharu Ota

“Now I See The Light” is a great album to truly immerse yourself in, and reveals a much more mature side to toe. The musicianship on display is top notch and cements toe as one of the best bands to come out of Japan. Here’s hoping we won’t have to wait as long for their next release.