Tokyo’s One Eye Closed have come a long way since forming in 2018. A self-released EP (Cain) saw them gain global recognition while their track Low, chosen as the ending theme of video game No Straight Roads, blasted them into the stratosphere (and scored a deal with JPU Records). Now they’ve teamed up with UK-based American vocalist Nikki Simmons to deliver the ultimate ode to summer, Never Forget.
From their blending of different musical genres and lyrical bent there is a duality running through the One Eye Closed discography and Never Forget is no exception. An insanely catchy beat heralds its arrival and lulls the listener into a sense of serenity and security with a laid back EDM vibe. Shimmering like sunlight fractured on water it’s an ethereal, other-worldly opening that jars with the arrival of the djent, palm-muted guitars which shatter the still. Each acts as a foil to highlight the other and provides an interesting tension of opposites between organic and electronic instrumentation. Similarly, there’s a juxtaposition betwixt the two vocalists and I like the subversion of gender roles; REI’s words are delivered with a pleading tenderness while Nikki delivers her lines with a sure-footed assertiveness. Not what I was expecting but this role reversal changes the way you engage with the song and it is one of many contrasts that makes Never Forget such an intriguing listen.
The video was shot on location at Enoshima island and it’s the perfect location in which to frame this poignant and sentimental song. The Electric Railway (“Enoden”) and Enoshima Shrine provide a backdrop to a story that chronicles a fractious relationship. In itself the video is like a work of art and features the colour blue quite prominently from actress Kana’s dress to the flowers via the food, ocean and sky; there’s an azure hue throughout that connects the video thematically. Blue often represents harmony, faithfulness and masculinity but that’s not what’s suggested here (those tension of opposites again) and the video provides a rather vague and indistinct ending.
Every year there is one song that becomes the “sound of summer” (perhaps the highest accolade that can be bestowed upon a single) and, in 2021, Never Forget is that very song.