Remio Best

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Remioromen made a name for themselves, slowly, with an approach to music and performance laced heavily with authenticity. Where other bands are actively finding their image and their marketing niches in the saturated Japanese pop market, Remioromen were known in part for simply performing their own music in their own standard clothing at their own pace. The result has always been a catchy, soulful form of soft rock, not far from the ‘buzz' hits of mid-90s American rock. With hits and misses in their progression from self-produced to independent to major label to charting stars, Remio Best makes a good show of their charted course. Anchored by an able bass and drum duo, vocalist Ryota Fujimaki alternately croons and wails his way through song after song on the set, and while his voice shows strain constantly, it never quite evokes the strongest emotional aspects. It has a thinness to it that undermines the sheer force behind it. Despite this, the songs work their way through, showing off outstanding touches of play from all three band members and some surprising compositional ideas that simply don't show up in a lot of Japanese pop. There are intriguing uses of minor chords that don't quite go dark in Denwa, some descending bass lines in Beer to Pudding that could have been part of a Stone Temple Pilots tinkering session, soft violins providing somber moods in Island. Remioromen doesn't fit into the milieu of standard dance-focused J-Pop by any means, but what they do, and what gets shown off in Remio Best, is an entirely fresh sound for those already acquainted with the pop scene.