Love Letter

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For Love Letter, Gackt decided to drop his usual spry, electric J-rock style in favor of an acoustic-only guitar album. Going unplugged is a big artistic challenge, and so is a commendable, but risky task -- and Gackt ultimately fails to floor it, mainly due to his overly straightforward approach to the job. Simply put, Love Letter is one long, slow, and dreamy acoustic ballad of the type that exhausted rockers like to close their records with to contrast the powerful riffs -- only this time there are no riffs, and all the songs consist of is Gackt's crooning over sparse guitar plucking or very simple piano chords; some strings may be added, but there's no rhythm section at all. The man has a good, if very melodramatic voice, and the approach itself is nothing bad -- there are countless bands, from Nirvana to Ulver, who at some point of their career settled down in the studio with acoustic guitars and some mikes, and produced beautiful and haunting albums. Gackt's problem, however, is that he doesn't really try to adapt to the new setting: he simply takes a familiar approach and stretches it for a good 50 minutes, disregarding the fact that it's ten times longer than it should be. Taken separately, every song on Love Letter is a nice and relaxing listen, but combined, they just drone on, lacking hooks, groove, hypnotic ambience, or anything else usually employed by acoustic bands to make their stuff interesting for long periods of time. It's pretty obvious that Gackt was looking up to Japanese pop-folk on Love Letter, trying to take a page out of Kobukuro's book, but he's still better off with a distortion pedal and a full backing band behind him.

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