Entertainment Best

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The second of three best-of compilations released by Exile in 2008, Entertainment Best covers the higher-energy, higher-tempo ground of the band. Missing here almost entirely are the ballads. Indeed, the album opens with a thrashing, sludgy guitar/rap piece that wouldn't have been out of place in a Mortal Kombat soundtrack. The next few tracks move into R&B territory, developing some worthwhile vocal harmonies that don't often make it through the barriers of the band's main arrangements. They get a chance to warble and croon here and take advantage of it -- if you haven't been sure whether Exile can actually sing or not (or if they just danced around, as is occasionally the case with the highly manufactured, image-conscious boy bands), songs like "Stay" are the proof that they can indeed. They also take a few stabs at New Jack Swing here (indeed, on the track "New Jack Swing"), and though dated as a style, the band performs it well. There are crosses with rock in the collaborative (with Glay) track "Scream" that come off fairly well. There are straight-up dance tracks, as in "24 Karats" (using Bach Logic's production for credibility). If someone was wondering how Exile, often sounding just like any of the other boy band out there, could have grown such a following, the answer is in this compilation. The band may specialize in more soul/R&B work than others, but it's their ability to fit the more energetic songs in without falling victim to the idol-based pop that so much J-pop does that really sets the band apart. This is easily the album to pick up for the new listener. As an added bonus, the album comes with a DVD of the bandmembers as an animated samurai crew.

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