Despite having played together for just three years, there’s something classic about Ayakara’s music: it effortlessly taps into the groove of sixties rock, baggy nineties anthemic pop, seventies R&B and the tongue-twisting wit of noughties indie.
Nevertheless, the Leith-based band spends little time wilting in their musical nostalgia; instead, vintage influences are wielded with a casual confidence that feels contemporary and fresh.
Previous releases, ‘Bitter Kiss/Lips’ and the Soothe Ya EP, placed them firmly alongside the likes of up-and-coming Glaswegians Baby Strange as a band that knows how to please a crowd with plenty of rhythm and energy.
Latest single ‘Dressed from ‘67’ is partly an ode to ‘The Summer of Love’, marking its fifty-year anniversary with a jagged lament for today’s “imitation” of a good life, comparing the tedious circus of “cool”, of contrived conversation and “climbing lines of Coca Cola in the bathroom stall” with the more playful days of yore.
The song is held together with a laidback chorus, “dressed from ‘67” and the refrain, “let the sunshine fill all of our days”, accompanied with unobtrusive rock and roll harmonies whose sweetness compliments the lead vocals which evoke Pete Doherty in their distinctive veer between howl and croon.
This veering perfectly expresses a sense of frustration, which is mellowed by a careful attention to melody, to faith in music itself.
Throughout ‘Dressed from ‘67’, there’s a thread of melancholy, but also a sense of summery fun in the lolling bassline and airy, jangly, Kinks-like guitars, the deliberate allusion to the utopian promise of sixties freedom.
Indeed, Ayakara is a band who saturates their songs with raucous enthusiasm on-stage, but listening to them off-stage allows you to appreciate the sincerity of their music alongside the swagger of their adrenaline-fused performances and vintage clothes.
At three and a half minutes, ‘Dressed from ‘67’ fits the structure of a golden slice of pop-rock, but it avoids a flamboyant build-up and instead, appropriate to the lyrics, presents a guitar solo that is languid and a little bit wistful, dissolving over vocals which grow increasingly spiked and passionate.
While other bands making similar music might be dismissed for cynical hipsterism, the ironic invoking of styles gone by, Ayakara express a genuine longing for more innocent and hopeful times: “take me back to ‘67”.
However, their musical nostalgia never paralyses their innovation and if ‘Dressed from ‘67’ is anything to go by, this should be a bright year for them.
Let’s hope they bring the sunshine; at any rate, the song makes you sentimental for summers you’re not even sure you had.
Words: Maria Sledmere