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Friday, March 26, 2010

LISTENING POST

CD REVIEW

Yuki "Ureshikutte Dakiau-yo"


One of the most striking features of former Judy and Mary singer Yuki Isoya's career is the way that she has maintained a unique sense of her own identity throughout the body of her solo work. Pick almost any song from any of her five studio albums and, with its squeaky-yet-powerful vocals and vaguely folk rock influenced melodic sensibility, chances are it will be instantly recognizable as hers.

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Nevertheless, in the eight years since "Prismic" — Yuki's eclectic solo debut — it's clear that a lot of the shine and energy of her early work has dissipated. Like pretty much all J-pop singers when they're looking to be seen as mature and credible, most of "Ureshikutte Dakiau-yo" inhabits an insubstantial middle ground somewhere between saccharine pop balladry, mid-paced rock and inoffensive lounge jazz. Its best moments are the ones where it breaks this mold, such as on "Present," which, despite shamelessly ripping off the chorus to The Strokes' "Hard to Explain," fizzes along with a kind of indie rock energy absent from the rest of the album. Elsewhere, recent single "Cosmic Box" doesn't really need to exist in a world where Tokyo Jihen are still churning out bland session musician jazz rock of much the same type, but "Ren-ai Moyou" takes a more interesting approach, dragging the song to absurd big band show tune extremes.

"Ureshikutte Dakiau-yo" is as inoffensive as any connoisseur of J-pop could expect, with a handful of highlights failing to disguise the visible graying of Yuki's musical work.


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