“Senryu” is a form of Japanese poetry that focuses on the silliness of human nature in 17 or fewer syllables. It is also the name of a band from Knoxville, TN, consisting of two multi-instrumentalists named Wil Wright and Steve Rodgers who like to engage in silly word puns and describe their music as pop/grindpop/indie/leghump. The band’s Facebook page describes Senryu as including “arms legs and the occasional private part.” Their concerts are messy. They are legally married to the retro-POP band the Bachelorettes of Jackson, MS.
So, you can see, the twee factor is high, and evident throughout their debut album, Inklings, on El Deth Records. With guest appearances by Ariel Saldivar of Polyphonic Spree and Broken Social Scene and Daniel Hart of John Vanderslice and St. Vincent, this is a promising debut but also a case of reaching out in too many musical directions at once.
It’s challenging, quirky to say the least, and very much on the experimental side with cacophonous passages, sound collages and intricate time signatures you don’t find much in pop music. But the influences are all over the map, from XTC to Animal Collective to Of Montreal. The album finds itself on the third and title cut, and on its first single, “Obsess Much.” Also, “I Hope You Burn In Hell (Just Kidding)” is one of the best tracks on the album.
Their more recent EP, Attached At The Hip, seems to have a little more muscular rhythm, deeper bass riffs, more danceable beats, and somewhat more conventional songwriting going for it, and you can download it for free at http://senryu.bandcamp.com/ . But be warned: The music of Senryu is anything but conventional.