Face to Face

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Riding the R&B wave a bit with their fifth album, the Japanese pop duo Chemistry's Face to Face incorporates some newer elements. Along with the straightforward pop anthems that they've always done (such as the arguably overwrought "Sora no Kiseki"), there are more sensitive ballads and hints of R&B mixed into the proceedings. The partially-sung-in-English "This Time" is a good example. The beats are decidedly more modern, more from the realm of American R&B (if perhaps a little dated). The singers move toward an American delivery, complete with tiny accentuations and harmonizing. They take an additional step later in the album with the enlistment of John Legend on "Tookage." Between those softer R&B bits and the more constructed pop pieces (and a stray collaboration with Noriyuki Makihara that sits somewhere between those two endpoints), there's a fair mix of sounds available on this album, making it a good contender for new listeners' attention. If the R&B portions, with their Japanese affectations, prove appealing, Chemistry isn't a bad starting point in pointing the way toward deeper J-R&B pockets. If the more pop-based portions prove more appealing, Chemistry again can be a decent resource, and can also point the way toward deeper pockets of Japanese pop (in particular the boy bands).

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