Hilcrhyme

Recital

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On this first major-label album, Japanese hip-hop duo Hilcrhyme open with a brash orchestral sweep, suggesting that they are a group not lacking in confidence. The near-title track, in true hip-hop style, is basically just Hilcrhyme banging on about themselves, replete with the requisite gangsta-esque insolently trilled "r"s; however, it also demonstrates that they have a bit more to offer than a lot of mainstream Japanese hip-hop, with the '80s-influenced sequencer that runs in the background interplaying well with the sampled remnants of the first track's orchestra. "Shunkashuto" demonstrates that Hilcrhyme can do sentimental melodies with lighters-aloft sweeping strings as well as any of their J-Pop contemporaries, although the more minimal "Uten" perhaps packs a more effective emotional punch. In fact, it's on these more stripped-down tracks, like "Riders High," where the duo appears at its best, with the sequencers and beats demonstrating an endearing arrogance and showing that Hilcrhyme haven't yet felt the need to resort to desperate pandering to their audience's lowest common denominator with overbearing pop balladry and cheap, simplistic rhythms. There's no doubt that Hilcrhyme are first and foremost out to make pop music, but they nevertheless manage to maintain a balance between inventiveness and the demands laid at their door by convention, with the result that Recital is a a cocksure, swaggering leap into the mainstream for the duo.

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