Honey – Luby Sparks

Released: 22.05.11 / Label: AWDR/LR2

Honey is the lead single for Luby Sparks‘ latest album Search + Destroy. They’re releasing through AWDR/LR2 who we’ve seen before working with Satoko Shibata. The name Luby is probably a play on the fact that the Japanese spelling for Ruby and Luby are the same. But that’s just a guess! Let’s do a little research and find out.

A 5-piece band from Tokyo, Luby Sparks is described as alternative rock, dream pop, or indie depending on where you look. Which gives me the impression that they either combine all the genres or have changed sound since they began in 2016. According to their bio on, weirdly, their YouTube channel, the band has had quite a lot of international collaboration behind the scenes on their music. They’ve also opened for a lot of bands on tour in Japan from overseas. No info on that L though… Let’s give the track a listen!

Wow. Well that was definitely pop. Weirdly I think I heard an exact guitar riff from a Jimmy Eat World song in there too. Overall it felt pretty flat for a song of this kind, which may be the styling of dream pop, I don’t know the genre very well, but it doesn’t really work for me. The vocals, rhythm guitar, and sparkly synths are all in the same range and it makes the song very top heavy. Without that sonic contrast it just feels a bit weak. The guitar and bass players are killing it though. Really great playing from them.

The lyrics seem to have a nice love story for us, but English is definitely not the singer’s first language. There’s no rhyme scheme, the grammar is pretty bad, and the pronunciation makes the whole thing hard to understand at all. I find this strange given how much work they seem to have done with international artists. The production is pretty bland and poorly balanced overall. And the single’s cover is needlessly risqué given the song’s lyrics. The album’s cover is much more subdued and would have worked fine here too. Obviously not my cup of tea, but let’s check out the verdict to finish today’s review off.

Verdict: Skip (1.8/5)

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Released: 22.05.25 / Label: AWDR/LR2

Satoko Shibata is originally from Hokkaido, Japan, but her musical journey began after heading to college in Tokyo. While she seems to have had moderate success there, this is the first time I’ve heard her music. The album the song is taken from, Bochi Bochi Galaxy, marks her career’s 10th anniversary and after just a cursory look at her previous work, she seems to be an artist that has had several style shifts over the years. While she lands squarely in the J-Pop genre, her approach for this album leans towards a mature cuteness.

The lyrics are the main selling point of this track, telling of a fun journey through the lens of a dream. While the lyrics are written in the typical non-specific style of the genre, that vagueness is explained away as having been a dream the whole time. Just by providing an out it’s already doing better than most other J-Pop tunes in my book.

Sadly the music, while wonderfully performed, is rather plain. There’s nothing really that unique is going on here other than the instrument choice. The arrangement is full of cool sounds and instruments, and they seem to be trying to create a samba-like feel but are stuck within the confines of the pop song. I would love to hear her work with an arranger who can really take this music and create something a bit more creative. The mix is also a bit messy for being her 10th year doing this. I was expecting a tighter sound given the genre, but we get something more fitting of an indie band. That being said it doesn’t sound bad, but it could have been better.

The packaging is also a bit of a flop. The album jacket is a direct rip from the lead single’s music video. And while her glasses are really cool, the music video is pretty boring. The making-of video is really interesting though, I’ll recommend that. It’s always fun to see how things are made!

Verdict: Take it or leave it (2.9/5)

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