Sakanaction

Shinshiro

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Mixing indietronica with the power pop of the Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Sakanaction, in fact, create a fresh version of new wave -- a synthesizer-based music form that still sounds predominantly rock. They're unlikely to score as big innovators -- this sound has been done before, the closest comparison being Scissor Sisters -- but Shinshiro is good where it counts, being an inspired and diversely flavored record. The band's music is rooted in disco beats, much like the Scissor Sisters, but Sakanaction take all the sleaziness out of it, replacing it with other influences. Many J-rock bands dabble in such disco reversal near the end of their albums, but Sakanaction are the first group to bring it to the forefront, and it probably leaves a lot of competitors gnawing at their elbows. The band mixes dancey rhythms with rock -- Asian Kung-Fu Generation, indeed, fits the bill best, although Sakanaction draw less on their forceful guitar delivery than the rich and bright melodic textures, here performed on both guitars and synthesizers. The singing is another similar point: Ichiro Yamaguchi is as clear, calm, and confident in his deceptively plain vocals as AKFG's Masafumi Goto, and makes it clear that Japanese bands don't need to be so obsessed with faux-dramatic vocal gimmicks. As the songs themselves go, there are no big catchy numbers on Shinshiro, but that's all right, as those would actually hinder the music flow, like sole minor-key number "Hustle & Bustle" does, even though it's a good song if taken on its own. This doesn't mean that there are no stylistic variations on Shinshiro, just that the record is very emotionally cohesive: in the meantime, they do throw in a rock number, a wonderful IDM tune ("Minnanouta"), and even some minor folk influence. At times Shinshiro sounds too lightweight, like Flow, but on the whole, it's a clear winner.