Catchy Best

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One of three best-of compilations released in the same year, Exile's Catchy Best album tries to cover their most popular music that isn't in the full-fledged arena pop setting (which went to their Entertainment Best album) or the softer stuff (the Ballad Best album). Instead, this is primarily middle of the road music, not quite pounding with beats and intricacies, but also not moping along as with ballads either. The album opens uber-grandiosely, with pounding drums and a showpiece that literally beats the band. The album goes exactly as promised from there -- all catchy, nothing standing out as extraordinarily big in sound or concept. Highlights are a little difficult to spot thanks to the thematic separation as well, with only a few points sticking out from the backdrop of generalized "catchiness". In particular, "Real World" provides a deeper techno base that interplays interestingly with the vocals from the band and lends a bit of exploratory credibility to the group. In conjunction with m-flo, the group also puts together an interesting, if somewhat incoherent, piece with the closing "Ginga Tetsudou 999," an electronic heap if ever there was one. For fans of Exile, their individual albums and singles are probably already in your collection, making this one a bit unnecessary. For newcomers, steer clear and head for some of their other work, or perhaps to similar bands (SMAP, Arashi, etc).

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