Meisa Kuroki

Hellcat

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Placing herself firmly in the ranks of sexualized pop singers, Meisa Kuroki's first album, Hellcat, is a smorgasbord of ultra-slick productions and extremely slinky vocals. The relatively short set opens with "Hear the Alarm?" a synth-driven dance track that at its best points hearkens to some of the pieces on Ayumi Hamasaki's remix albums. Kuroki moves into a Namie Amuro mode with "Like This," heavy on Auto-Tune tweaks and a syncopated beat. "Bad Girl" kicks up the kittenish vibe a bit more with a seemingly Kumi Koda-inspired beat and delivery. After a fairly standard track, there's an intriguing, stuttering beat presented in "No, No, No" that would have been a throwaway track elsewhere but just seems to scratch beneath the surface of what Kuroki has presented previously. There's a little more technique in her vocals here, though the material itself is relatively normal. The extremely straightforward "Sex" holds up the basic beat and lyrical content of the rest of the album, simply unveiling the core message through some oversexed rapping, as though it were unclear. Though the slower "Lost" falls somewhat flat, the album ends on a thick groove with "This Is Crazy," which also completes the disc in just the right form after the preceding tracks. Hellcat isn't going to win any awards for innovation, but the mix of straightforward sex-kitten stances and glimpses of deeper talent imply that Kuroki may have some staying power in a seemingly saturated market.