Amano Tsukiko

Moon Child in the Sky

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Amano Tsukiko may not have enjoyed the same level of success as many others '80s-loving Japanese divas, from Aikawa Nanase to Yui, but it's probably because of the fact that many of her rivals calculate their steps to stay in the kid-friendly pop zone, while she knows how to rock to her heart's content. A Moon Child in the Sky offers nothing new, to be sure, but it's got the one thing revivalists should have -- the ability to perfect the styles they follow. Authentic '80s rockers were too preoccupied with strutting their (usually) male egos, either in the form of silly cock rock posing or playing guitar heroes, while pop of the era was, well, bubblegum. But Tsukiko manages to reproduce the energy of the old rockers, turning in some of the best riffs in the genre ("Devil Flamingo," "Joker Joe") and imbuing them with enough sentiment and melody to show that '80s pop was, after all, not half bad. Considering the tight and busy arrangements that all songs enjoy -- there are strings and even a little drum machine, a perfunctory but enjoyable stab at modern sound -- this record could have been a total winner, were it not for the fact that it suffers from a questionable track selection. The first energetic and inspired songs are followed by too many power ballads, later attempts to rock on sound dangerously like filler, and by "Satoumizu," the impact of the album is largely lost. But the closer "Kakan" brings things up a notch, offering a mixture of all the best tricks of Tsukiko's repertoire, both in the hard rock and ballad department (and even a synth line to put a nostalgic smile on Eddie Van Halen's face), proving that A Moon Child in the Sky, after all, qualifies as a fun retro trip.

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