Yumi Yumi

Dublin Castle, London - 19 August 1999

[Dublin Castle gig poster]"Plinky-plonky percussion and a light pop sequencer"

Yumi Yumi (that's pronounced "youme youme" and not "yummy yummy" as the band pointed out to someone in the audience) are two Japanese female singer/songwriters of a beguiling form of guitar/electro pop. Since November last year, Yumi Yumi have been playing across the UK, garnering rave reviews off everyone from Melody Maker to obscure fanzines, and building up something of a very small but already dedicated following. This could be seen in Camden's Dublin Castle - the front row mixture of locals and Japanese tourists were singing along to the catchy tunes and lyrics (mostly sung in English). Yumi plays bass guitar and Kaori plays lead guitar live and they are accompanied by a teddy bear holding a drumstick, sitting on a Roland 303 drum machine. This was the band's final gig in the UK for now as they will shortly be returning to Japan - their funds having been depleted. (Although they did say they might be back next year.)

Both guitars do rock but also offer up distinctive rhythms that are backed up by plinky-plonky percussion, thumping bass drums and crashing snares, over a light pop sequencer. It's an odd mix of elements. Kenickie and Shampoo have been mentioned in some reviews but this is taking the fun approach too much on face value. For despite the obvious passing similarity - 'wacky girls make fun pop/rock' - there are some striking and original moments in Yumi Yumi's arsenal of tunes. To their strength, they don't trade solely on the quirky pop angle and there were some confident and straight-faced compositions among the set. The audience didn't require any encouragement to dance and those who had the space took advantage of it. A handful at the front were going berzerk and seemed to worship at the altar of Yumi Yumi, screaming their approval at the end of each song.

In fact, the entire audience seemed to love the whole thing. This may have been partly due to Kaori and Yumi being so chatty and informal between songs. The drum machine would start and Kaori would stop it to quickly make an observation or enter into a brief dialogue with the audience; "Oh, so many people", "We will really miss you", and "Did you see the eclipse!" being among them.

The set whizzed by, but then it was only just over half-hour long, and Yumi Yumi finished and waited, as if they had to, for the cheers for more. Sure enough, a two song encore was forthcoming and everyone seemed pleased about that too. From the modish Ba-ka ('Stupid') to Cinderella - an amazing combination of chanting Japanese voices and high note sequencer patterns guided by their usual bass and lead guitar, Yumi Yumi are an accomplished and entertaining package of songwriting and live performance. Next time they play near you, I encourage you to pay them a visit. The most remarkable thing about Yumi Yumi is that (at present) they remain an unsigned act. I can't believe this will remain the case for very long and if so... well, then there truly is no justice in this world.

Rob Dyer