News

Live

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    5
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Not actually a live album at all, News' Live is built around basic boy band pop, with perhaps a reluctance to delve too deeply into new territory as some of the older boy bands in Japan have done (SMAP and Exile, for example). The pieces on Live touch just slightly on rock (as in the title track), and just slightly on the classic soft ballad form that's a mainstay of the boy band form. What they do much more of is in the realm of electronic-influenced dance-pop -- nothing remarkable compared to the rest of the Japanese scene, but well composed and well performed. The group alternates large-scale harmonies with small solo breakouts to showcase the "character" of the various members, all with just a touch of a house beat in the background. Fans of the basic boy band movement should be well fulfilled by Live -- fair vocals over fair arrangements lead to basic, wholesome, danceable pop. As an added bonus, there's an acoustic version of the hit "Forever" included on some editions of the album.