Utada / Hikaru Utada

Exodus

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As the child of Japanese musicians who reside in both New York City and Tokyo, Utada Hikaru was perhaps predestined for a career as a performer informed by multiculturalism. On her first major-label English-language album, Utada (who previously sold over nine million albums in Japan) delivers a diverse collection of urbane, modern, and, at times, almost avant-garde electronica and dance music. From the hard house beats of "Devil Inside" to the sing-song hip-hop/R&B amalgam of "Easy Breezy," EXODUS mixes progressive club music with a broad sense of experimentation rarely seen in the pop world. Of course, Utada's remarkable voice--which sounds like a cross between Tori Amos, Yoko Ono, and Madonna--is the center of the storm; on "Tippy Toe," the ex-Columbia University student swoops to great heights and back down again, matching her often intensely personal, wryly humorous lyrics with an unpredictable melody. A true fusion of Western and Eastern music's edgier elements thrown together in an after-hours disco melting pot, EXODUS heralds the American arrival of an unusual and challenging artist.

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