Ai Otsuka

Love Piece

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Along with the rest of her "Love" line of albums (Love Punch, Love Jam, Love Letter, etc.), J-pop songstress Ai Otsuka's Love Piece is a nice if fairly basic collection of stereotypical modern Japanese pop music. The music is undeniably beat-driven and heavy on fluffy vocals. Otsuka performs the majority of the songs at a fairly high pitch, stretching out the key words ("peee-eeeach") as a form of accentuation. The bulk of the album is run at high speed, powering through pop idol fare piece by piece without pause. In a couple of spots, though, Otsuka gets a chance to show off her chops on balladry. Her voice can be a bit thin for some of the ballads ("Kumuriuta" is a good example), as there isn't an additional flow of instrumentation as in the higher-energy tracks. However, on others ("Yumekui") it gives her a chance to show off a middle register to her voice, still not terribly strong but a facet that doesn't get heard all that often. The compositions are fairly pedestrian, from the very core of Tokyo's manufactured pop scene. Otsuka has some good star power in that very scene, though, and Love Piece isn't a bad showcase to explain why.

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