Tokio

Sugar

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AllMusic Review by

For a "boy band with guitars," Tokio sure are a powerful rock unit, although their pedigree ultimately takes hold, making Sugar not as fun as it could be -- though it's still plenty fun. The group is a product of Johnny's Entertainment, the almighty Japanese male talent agency that specializes in proper boy bands; its transgression into the realm of rock naturally causes suspicion, but Tokio are longtime survivors of the Japanese show biz, and that alone proves that they have the goods. Of course, Tokio isn't out there to compete with Boris or Fullarmor, but Sugar showcases their strength as an energetic pop/rock act that can stand their own against other bands of the style despite Johnny's' involvement: the songs, though melodic, play fast, have plenty of good riffs, and even sport some classic rock & roll solos here and there. R&B is the most prominent influence in Tokio's music, but only to the extent of Merry or An Cafe, which is to say, they borrow from the style, but don't play it, mixing this influence with many others, from American post-grunge to '80s glam ballads and disco-rock reminiscent of Dschinghis Khan ("Seishun"). The results can be very good, such as on the catchy arena rock opener "Sugar," but as the record progresses, the band begins to drift into blatant pop territory, and while they are closer to Chris de Burgh than Backstreet Boys, it is still a letdown compared to stronger, if slightly less glamorous numbers that are Sugar's real forté. In the end, Tokio are better off competing against Glay or Sid rather than Kinki Kids, and would benefit from more grit, not another layer of polish, of which there's plenty, even on the rocking tracks anyway.

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