Shimokawa Mikuni

Sayonara Mo Ienakatta Natsu

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When you get down to brass tacks, Shimokawa Mikuni is nothing but an also-ran in a pretty crowded field, populated by the likes of Remioromen and Yaida Hitomi. Perhaps this is benchmark J-pop -- female-fronted and taking clues from '80s charts rock and even AOR, not Britney Spears-like glamorous dance music -- incorporating unavoidable soundtrack styling: a couple of songs from Sayonara Mo Ienakatta Natsu were used in an anime series, and probably will extract some reaction from those who saw it. But this is just Pavlovian reflex: though Shimokawa Mikuni does her best to carve her own niche -- she specializes in sunny semi-ballads with strings, pianos, and heartfelt singing -- all her attempts to infuse emotion into her songs fail to leave a lasting impression, and the whole record zips by without much impact. Active listening to this album is a nigh impossible test of patience, with its unwavering sweetness relegating it to background music -- although good background music is a respected genre, too, this is not to say that Sayonara Mo Ienakatta Natsu has no point at all: it's certainly nice, just not necessary by any means.

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