"Turning Japanese" is the Vapors' claim to fleeting rock fame. A catchy curiosity, the song is not exactly rich or tasteless, but it's not clever enough to be funny, either. Mainly, it's attention-grabbing: a schizo-love song set in a padded cell, featuring a "psyched lone-ranger" who repeatedly exclaims, "I think I'm turning Japanese," as though to say "I'm going off the deep end." A sterotypical oriental-sounding theme recurs, with high notes plucked on an electric guitar to effect geisha-style melodies along with wierdo twangs. Radio deejays can't seem to get enough of it.
From here, they'll have to prove themselves to be more than a one-album group with a lone hit single.
Unfortunately, most other depraved cuts on the Vapors' deput album, "New Clear Days," are vapid. The expressions of nuclear-age craziness are slightly more engaging than the mainstream/new wave music itself. Lamenting one social disease or another, the group comments in one mystifying song, "The Age of Reason is out to lunch," and never quite explains why.
Along with traces of creative maladajustment in the lyrics, the Vapors employ lots of fast-paced but undistinguished drumming, familiar Beatles-like harmonies, more westerized oriental flourishes on "Letter From Hiro," and repetitive bass lines.
If those four Englishmen had set out to spoof the trendiness that's carried them this far, they could have quit after their punk fashion statement, "Spring Collection." The tune gives thumbs down to a heartbreak kid's hip Portabello Road wardrobe.
But it's obvious the band has bought into the same fads that is ridiculing -- to judge by their music as well as their cropped hairstyles. Agitated guitars create a restless, boring undercurrent and the tune dissolves in a muddled racing drum beat.
Elsewhere, the soft and slow "Sixty Second Interval" relies on swaying bass track and drawn-out lead guitar meanderings. The style seems derivative of every English rock group since the Beatles, plus the slick R&B that was Motown -- the opening bass guitasr chords on "Interval" resemble a hyperactive version of "My Girl." Vapors songwriter and lead singer David Fenton has crafted a passable but hardly exciting rock amalgam, with one memorable if twisted track.