Dip in the Pool – On Retinae (Music From Memory, January 2016)

Matt Anniss summed this one up perfectly in his review as a genuine Balearic pop gem, and a rare beauty. On Retinae is another pink-sounding record to inaugurate the year: it feels like early summer in the midst of winter. While they actually had their first LP released on Rough Trade here in the UK in 1986, Dip in the Pool have been criminally underloved outside of Japan over the past 30 years. We’ve been missing out. What they consistently made was sophisticatedly dreamy, delicate new wave, clean and lean yet sonically exploratory, up there with the best early 4AD or Disques du Crépuscule traditions.

The increasingly elegant Music From Memory (I use the word ‘elegant’ every time I write about this label!) puts out the “East” and “West” versions of the song which originally bookended the 1989 LP Retinae (worth a listen) which here is just enough to whet our appetite. And boy, appetite-whetting is exactly what the track does, gifting a little morsel of late-night poolside languor, all watery textures sparkling against wandering clarinets and wide, long, linear synth-lines. Yes it’s J-pop, yes it’s Balearic, and yes it’s got a new age and ambient feel to it, but it is also and fundamentally a perfectly round, self-contained new wave diamond that manages to impeccably fuse a serious, stylish coolness with an irresistible tenderness.