Combining the talents of a number of international new wave bands (Kate Pierson from the B-52's, Mick Karn from Japan, and Takemi Shima and Masahide Sakuma from the Plastics, as well as vocalist Yuki from '90s J-Pop legends Judy & Mary), this eponymous album promises to be a goldmine for '80s music geeks. Sadly, despite flashes of brilliance, NiNa is never more than a missed opportunity. Throughout the album there are snatches of glorious melody and harmony, as on rock ballads "Aurora Tour" and "Happy Tomorrow," but there are no moments where all the disparate elements that went into the production fall together. Yuki's shrill, squeaky vocals grate up against Pierson's richer voice on "Route 246," and the polished production undermines the attempt at quirky, Plastics-like cuteness on "Hairspray." The lyrics are mostly whimsical and nonsensical, but thanks to the otherwise straight pop/rock musical arrangements fail to hit the mark as ironic and satirical like the Plastics, and thanks to the worldliness of 50 year-old Pierson's vocals, fail to come off as endearingly faux-naïve as Shonen Knife, either.
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AllMusic Review by Ian Martin