Dreams Come True

Sing or Die

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The U.S. debut by Dreams Come True (they have many more releases in their native Japan, where they're stadium-level stars) is almost exactly what people who have never heard Pizzicato Five probably think Pizzicato Five sounds like. This is slickly commercial synth pop with none of the irony or subversive qualities that make Pizzicato Five so intriguing, and not as many of the hooks and melodies that make them so much fun to listen to. While there's nothing actively bad about Sing or Die, some of the songs sound as if a computer programmed to synthesize the 1996-1998 Billboard Top Ten singles chart wrote them. The ultra-cheesy "Will to Love," the opening track and first single, is a particular offender in this regard. However, a few of the songs are catchy and silly enough to please the discerning pop fan. The soaring "Dandelion Hill" sounds like a really good Spice Girls single, and "This Is Not Love at All," cleverly built around a sample of a ringing telephone, has a slinky and dramatic charm oddly reminiscent of some of Trevor Horn's more over the top mid-'80s productions. Perhaps best of all, "Kelo Kelo" blends tropical percussion, an oddly whiny and utterly delightful lead vocal by Miwa Yoshida (imagine Macy Gray as a member of Bananarama), and a singsong melody that's the most memorable aspect of the whole record. The high points don't quite outnumber the low on Sing or Die, but they are there.

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