Tommy Heavenly6

Gothic Melting Ice Cream Darkness: Nightmare

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Gothic Melting Ice Cream's Darkness Nightmare summarizes five years of Tommy Heavenly6, an alter ego of Tomoko Kawase created after she grew dissatisfied with her "synth pop character" Tommy February6. Tommy Heavenly6 is, without question, a bigger treat to fans of the Brilliant Green, which Kawase fronted and which remains the main highlight on her résumé, but those expecting more of that band's unique alt-rock goodness may still walk away disappointed: on goodness, Gothic Melting delivers, but it's short on the "unique" part. Tommy Heavenly6's trade is melodic, punk-tinged alternative rock, speedy, with the occasional genuinely heavy song and a couple of sentimental numbers thrown into the rumble. In other words, it's nothing that hasn't been done before, in Japan as well as in the West, and Tommy Heavenly6 only comes across as an also-ran in the style. Just as with Tommy February6, Kawase relies too much on the music of others: both "Hey My Friend" and "Ready?," for example, rip off Avril Lavigne, the only difference being that the former draws on her semi-ballads (think "Complicated") while the latter is a clone of the pop-punkish "Sk8er Boy." In most other cases, the tunes on Gothic Melting stand on their own more firmly, but the feeling of derivativeness still persists, boosted by the fact that Kawase doesn't try to work the style into her own system, content with merely blasting through a set of alt-rock standards. The songs just don't stand out: Tommy Heavenly6 can't live up to Lavigne's killer hooks, and she has neither Anna Tsuchiya's charisma and delivery skills nor Olivia's dark optimism and unbelievable voice. There are some standout cuts on this record, such as the ten-minute theatrical gothic suite "Lollipop Candy BAD girl," but it's probably harder to make an 80-minute record that wouldn't have at least a few of those. All in all, Gothic Melting isn't half bad -- Kawase picks good influences -- but the music is obviously short on individuality.