Gospellers

Hurray!

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    5
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One of the very, very few bands in Japan to perform in a proper soul style, the Gospellers made a name for themselves with a classic Motown style (and an occasional blackface performance in conjunction with the doo wop group Rats & Stars). The group has a formidable handle on the basic tenets of harmonizing and a cappella singing in general, though some of the tendencies in Japanese singing lead to weaker moments from time to time. For the most part, Hurray! comes off as an excellent album from a decent Motown tribute band. The songs may be original, and may even include fresher producers on the tracks, but the sound remains dated. Part of the dating is entirely intentional -- one can't have a classic R&B sound while updating it too much. The balance of the dating, though, is unintentional and less pleasurable to the listener. This is the approach to vocals traditionally taken in much Japanese singing. When the formats clash, the rhythm is often the point of breakdown, with the singers not quite keeping up with the backing tracks. It's an interesting format to include in the pantheon of developments of J-pop at large, but Hurray! might not be the best place to hear the culmination of a cappella development in Japanese music. Some of Color's work, while more contemporary in composition, may be a better station to listen from.