Tokyo Jihen


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Tokyo Jihen was, for all intents and purposes, the next step in the J-pop evolution. It's not hard to see where the band comes from -- there's a legion of girly-sounding Japanese female vocalists, often backed by a whole band and churning out power pop and soft rock hits, sometimes more loud (High and Mighty Color), sometimes quite relaxed (Remioromen). On Adult, Tokyo Jihen pretend to do something in the same vein, but they actually replace the music part with jazz-rock, complete with little stylistic detours that cover a considerable territory -- although this is not to say they are strangers to the pop sound. Still, the piano-heavy songs with their busy rhythm section give off a much more, well, adult vibe than Yui or Shimokawa Mikuni. Tokyo Jihen don't wholly shed their pop heritage -- "Superstar" still sounds like a typical J-pop chart-topper (is that irony?), and in a couple of places the band comes close to Muzak, but Muzak in small quantities is usually just called "a ballad", and anyway, the techno/hard rock bit tacked at the end of "Keshou Naoshi," right over the brass section, is one of the best moments of the album. Also, there's quite a variety of tracks that remind of vocalist Shiina Ringo's more experimental solo work, such as the intense "Yukiguni," not to mention the jazzy fool-around moments ("Kabuki"). At the end of the day, Adult is still a pop album above and before anything else, but the band's attempts to diversify the sound ensure that will hold your interest for many more listens than the average J-pop record.

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