The Pillows

Pied Piper

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Another year, another Pillows album. By 2008, the band had been cranking out new releases once a year for more than a decade, but this steady progress is actually commendable, because any of those records can serve as a perfect introduction to the band's Pixies pop sound (although that also means there's not much to explore afterwards). Pied Piper is no exception, offering 11 more tracks of the same dynamic riffage that processes the jangly guitars of alt-rock and occasional rockabilly moments through the power pop of Gin Blossoms to make the music fit for the Oricon Top 20. That said, Pied Piper isn't the band's best effort: the tight release schedule takes its toll on the songwriting. There's nothing really wrong with it -- the album is still a pleasant listen -- but it flows by in an unostentatious manner that only becomes obvious when the Pillows show some real inspiration. There are two songs that truly stand out on Pied Piper, "Across the Metropolis" and "Ladybird Girl," both being soothing, quiet, and memorable tracks that never lose dynamics (just doing some ballads would be too easy), and there are some instantly notable moments on other songs, too, such as the finale to "Last Holiday," replete with swirling strings. The rest is old tricks, although that shouldn't be read as "bad tricks." Anyway, no newcomer would regret starting an acquaintance with the Pillows via Pied Piper, even if those familiar with band's work may wish that the band would maybe limit itself to an EP. Well, in Japanese music prolificacy and stability are considered higher virtues than evolution.

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