Attack All Around

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After passing through a series of albums and a full 23 hit singles, the fairly rare mixed-gender pop band AAA (Attack All Around) put together their first compilation of greatest hits in early 2007. The music is particularly upbeat here, almost troublingly so. This is the band's sweet spot, of course, but a new listener may find only stereotypes in the music on first listen. The sound is straightforward power pop in large part due to the instrumental side of affairs, but with sugary vocals courtesy of the three females in the group (Misako Uno, Chiaki Ito, and Yukari Goto) and a mix of hard and soft aspects from the male contributors. Some are specialists in power ballads, some are specialists in hip-hop breaks, and some are simple R&B vocalists. With the massive mix of styles in their background formats, AAA have the potential to swing from one sound to another fairly easily. What you get instead, though, is more often a thrashing, clashing mix of sound that can barely keep up with itself, as in the hyperactive "Kimono Jet Girl," pounding house drums placed against Middle Eastern-influenced synths placed against Puffy AmiYumi-style frenetic female power pop vocals. All at once. When they're taking their time with a composition, AAA can put together a nice coherent bit of pop. When they're rushing it, there's more cacophony to be had (both deliberate and unintentional). On their first major compilation, there's plenty of both formats to be heard.