Boku no Miteiru Fukei

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Arashi tries out a few new ideas on his ninth album that the boy band wunderkind hadn't previously attempted. Aside from slightly unusual packaging for the Japanese market (only a single version of the album was released, rather than the usual variant with covers, alternate versions, DVD-inclusions, etc), the album treads new territory. Boku no Miteiru Fukei starts in standard territory with an uptempo pop number infused with a bit of rap at the proper interludes. On "Mada Ue Wo," however, the band adds a simple but scorching violin to the proceedings, changing the tone of the music greatly. The band also experiments with more noticeable tweaking (à la Auto-Tune), providing a synthesized counterpoint to the usual vocal harmonies. Tracks from the individual artists (usually relegated to a bonus disc, but incorporated directly into the mix here) reveal intriguing bits and pieces: Sakurai Sho's "Taboo" is a dark, SMAP-like chant, and Aiba Masaki's "Magical Song" verges on Ken Hirai territory with tiny mode changes and a constant thump. With only one official ballad on the set, the band stays in pop mode for quite a while here. They also show off elements that aren't in their usual wheelhouse, and show them in a nice light.