Boris has been busy. After releasing the Japan-only New Album in March, the Tokyo-based trio unveiled two more full-lengths, Heavy Rocks and Attention Please, on the same day. But there’s a reason the two haven’t been lumped together into a double album: Heavy Rocks is a nod (down to the cover design) toward the band’s 2002 album of the same name, while Attention Please is a marked departure, being the first Boris disc with extensive lead vocals by guitarist Wata. The confusion isn’t unusual for Boris, a group that’s happily spliced stoner-rock, doom metal, punk, and pop in a recombinant frenzy over the past 15 years. And while that gleeful tinkering doesn’t always work on this pair of releases, each has its breathtaking moments.
Like its predecessor of the same name, Heavy Rocks is spacey and sensual, with Takeshi’s hazy, horny voice sailing through Wata’s supple riffs and psychedelic string-bending. That said, Boris has evolved a lot over the past decade, and the album is far less raw and furious than its 2002 namesake. In fact, it’s unclear exactly why the title and cover art are recycled here, unless it’s meant to reflect that contrast—not that it detracts in any way from the new disc’s sludgy, hook-laden undertow. Attention Please is just as heavy with the hooks, but not so with the sound; far less typically Boris-like than Heavy Rocks, the album is frigid, atmospheric, and sanitized by electronics, with grooves that tickle instead of disembowel. And the ubiquity of Wata’s angelic vocals make the whole thing feel like an art-pop side project. It doesn’t always hold the attention that its title demands, but it makes for a sweet, icy dessert after Heavy Rocks’ rib-sticking meatiness.