Puffy AmiYumi


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Puffy AmiYumi have never released a record that is less than wonderful, and Nice is no exception to the rule. In fact, it just might be their best record. From the smashing opener, "Planet Tokyo," to the last track, "Red Swing" (which has the same music as "Planet Tokyo" but different lyrics sung in Japanese), Nice is a blast. The record genre-hops like a jet-propelled frog, touching on swoony '70s disco-pop (the candy-coated "Tokyo Nights"), sweet ballads ("Angel of Love," the White Album-styled "Thank You"), jangling power pop ("Sayonara," a dreamy tune with a nice nod to Blondie in the chorus), hard rockers ("Invisible Tomorrow," the ultracatchy "Your Love Is a Drug"), ska-punk ("K2G"), and cartoon theme music (the actual theme for new cartoon series Teen Titans called, strangely enough, "Teen Titans Theme"). Despite the mash up of styles and genres, the record hangs together extremely well. Besides, any record that can bring to mind both Marshall Crenshaw's debut album (the peppy, handclapping "Long Beach Nightmare") and Fleetwood Mac's Rumours (the ironically sad "Shiawase [Happiness]") is sure to be manna from heaven to pop music fans. Add to that the fact that every song has a hook big enough to catch Jaws, the perfect instrumentation, and a flawless production that sounds completely modern but never cheap or trendy. To thank for all of these factors is ex-Jellyfisher Andy Sturmer. He has helped out Puffy in the past on a few songs, but here the girls handed the reins over to Mr. Sturmer and he brought home the Triple Crown. And as if all that weren't enough, Ami Onuki and Yumi Yoshimura have never sounded better. Their vocals blend together as seamlessly and thrillingly as always, but it seems that they have a new warmth and power to go along with their schoolgirl enthusiasm. Check out how assured they sound on the chorus to "Planet Tokyo" or how sweet they sound on "Thank You." Without them the record would just be a nice piece of futuristic retro-pop, but with them it is pop magic that should be savored by everyone with even one pop bone in their body. Listening to Puffy will bring you pure shiawase.

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