Nearly as lively, joyful and strangely moving as the anime it supports, Fooly Cooly, Vol. 1: Addict ranks among the best anime soundtracks of the late '90s and early 2000s, with only Yoko Kanno's Cowboy Bebop work -- which was much more sprawling and diverse -- besting it musically. What Fooly Cooly's soundtrack really excels at is distilling the series' personality: the show manages to cram growing up, first love, rock & roll, a gonzo sense of humor and battles with aliens and giant robots into six short, heavily surreal episodes. Even more so than many other anime series, Fooly Cooly depends on its music to make sense, both emotionally and plot-wise, of its quirky hyperactivity. Fooly Cooly: Addict is more than up to the task, primarily thanks to the great music provided by the Pillows, one of Japan's most enduring, and endearing, indie rock bands. Their sweet vocal harmonies, alternately spiky and jangly guitars and stop-start dynamic shifts owe a lot to the Pixies and the Who, but the hints of surf, indie pop and electronica that they also play with give them a fresher, more unique sound than their influences might suggest. Though the Pillows have been around since the late '80s, their numerous albums have had little, if any U.S. distribution, so the Fooly Cooly soundtracks also serve as an introduction to the band for a larger American audience. Fooly Cooly: Addict features several songs that the Pillows re-recorded for the show, as well as some instrumental pieces they wrote for the score. Spanning bouncy rock like the fantastic "Ride on Shooting Star," "Little Busters" and "Runners High (FLCL Version)," bittersweet pop like "Instant Music" and "One Life," and playful asides such as "Sad Sad Kiddie" and "Carnival," the Pillows' music is gloriously all-over-the-place, just barely held together by the band's distinctive guitar work (which is even more fitting considering that one of Fooly Cooly's main characters uses a bass guitar like a battle axe). The soundtrack pieces that aren't performed by the Pillows also work well, particularly Kabalevsky's frenzied "Gallop" from "Clown," Shinkichi Mitsumune's playfully slinky "Selfish-B" and the hyper J-pop of Maki Kamiya's "Pink." It's rare when an anime soundtrack is so consistent, and rarer still when it can appeal to people who aren't necessarily fans of the anime, but Fooly Cooly: Addict is one of those special cases. It's easy to see why the album is subtitled "Addict"; the playful excitement of the Pillows' music, and the rest of the soundtrack, make it compelling on repeated listens.
Fooly Cooly, Vol. 1: Addict Review
by Heather Phares