Unicorn

Chambre

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    7
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Long regarded as one of the most revolutionary groups in modern Japanese music, Unicorn reunited in 2009, in part using the popularity of longtime frontman Tamio Okuda as a stepping stone back into the public consciousness. Originally known for something of a punk aesthetic, Unicorn developed their sound to eventually include wide-ranging elements from punk to pop to blues and rock influences. All the way along, though, they infused the music with their own ideals rather than simply mimicking the trends they heard elsewhere. On Chambre, they hold up that standard admirably. They still cover a wide range of territory -- from the flat delivery of Okuda over a basic ballad in the album-opening "Himawari" to the crazed punk explosions of "Wao!," the bandmembers show they've not only still got musical chops, but they've still got their sense of musical wanderlust and playfulness. There's a bit of brass when called for; a bit of Spanish castanet accentuation when called for; a bit of modern studio bleeping and blooping when called for. Okuda's guiding hand can be heard throughout the compositions, with a number of pieces showing stylistic links to his solo work (listen to Fantastic OT9 for a few immediate parallels). Fans of their seminal albums may be a bit underwhelmed given the standards set by their classic works, but Chambre delivers the goods at all necessary levels anyway. There's a huge set of music, with huge stylistic swings in the vein of their old works, and Unicorn show in their more upbeat numbers that they've still got the spark that infused their earlier works with energy and fun. It's probably not going to go down as one of their greatest albums, but even a decent album from a group like Unicorn can be a great one by normal standards.