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Friday, July 17, 2009
By IAN MARTIN
In a pop industry where music is usually a mere marketing tool to help sell an idol's image, Japan's busiest producer, Nakata Yasutaka, has pulled off a rare success by the way his music utterly subsumes the identities of Perfume's three female members, turning them simply into girl-shaped robotic campaign dolls for his trademark brand of electropop. Their voices are obliterated beneath a blizzard of vocoder and an auto-tuning permafrost, all feeding into the music's air of glacial cool, particularly on former single "Dream Fighter" and the reworked "Edge," both of which are pure, spine tingling pop gems.
However, "Triangle" also reveals some of Nakata's limitations. There are a handful of tricks that he employs, dropping an unusual key shift into "Love the World" or engineering the unexpected rhythmical hiccup before the chorus of "Dream Fighter," and combined with his firework display of inventive production trickery, Nakata succeeds in making otherwise merely decent songs like "Night Flight" and "Kiss and Music" into album highlights. Nevertheless, after the initial rush subsides, the bells and whistles can't disguise the musical prozac that comprises much of the latter half of "Triangle," which remains stuck in a bland, mid-paced J-Pop groove. The inclusion of recent single "One Room Disco" near the end is the equivalent of a desperate football manager throwing on a late substitute to try to save a match, and is undermined by the decision to close with the insipid "Negai," leaving one with the impression that, like his 1990s uber-producer forbear Komuro Tetsuya, Nakata Yasutaka may be spreading his talents too thinly.