Junior Sweet

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Chara's fifth album earned her a million seller in its initial week of release, and put her high in the ranks of Japan's alternative female vocalists. This is a charming album, brimming with sunshine and confidence, going from grunge-style guitars to lullaby glockenspeil with ease, sometimes in the same song. Chara's delivery on such hits as "Yasashii Kimochi" and "Milk" nestles somewhere between wide-eyed wonder and irritability, and takes just a bit getting used to. The former of these two features a stompin' guitar out of "Give Peace a Chance," but hooks up a merry-go-round to the instrumentation. The title track is a dish of sweet R&B, with slinky keyboards and tasty horn arrangements, while the Towa Tei-produced track "Striped Bambi" moves along as sweet as a fairy tale until a last-minute interruption by Chisato Moritaka on drums and YMO's Harry Hosono on bass. "Come Freely" rocks like a Traveling Wilburys song, aided by harpsichord and some Clapton-esque guitar, and "Where Did You Go? Stupid!" features a funky drum track and some strings strangely reminiscent of a James Bond theme song. There's hardly a bad track here, just some sameness in the ballads, but it's the best starting point for anyone interested in the singer.

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