Kanjani Eight


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Enka being more of a nostalgic form than a modern one (with the exception of a small handful of semi-innovators, such as Jero), the market for the sound is there, but shrinking as time goes on. Enter Kanjani Eight, former boy band types who formed into a modern enka group, melodramatic through their performances and musically somewhere between lounge singing (enka proper), boy band balladry, and barbershop quartets. The enka itself is decent -- it's not a musical format with a lot of pep or a lot of innovation by design, but the group performs it fairly well. As the album progresses, the band moves through some more basic boy band material, hitting a few love songs and a few Westernized ballads. Nothing exceptional, but it's there. They really start mixing things up with "Gori Gori," a bit of ska-punk in the vein of a slower Kemuri. "It's My Soul" moves back to boy band dance, but adds a few interesting melodic twists along the way. Realistically, the album has a fair amount of variety in it, but none of that variety is really performed at the level of their peers in the relevant genres. The thing that Kanjani Eight do well is multi-part enka, and that's a niche small enough that there are sure to be only very few die-hard fans. Serious enka-philes should give this one a spin, but others should look elsewhere in the spectrum of Japanese pop.