The second full-length album from the Bank Band (comprised of a couple of members from Mr. Children, in conjunction with their charitable bank) is a low-key affair, casually working its way through a number of midtempo numbers and slightly crossing the lines between pop, R&B, and rap. The album opens innocently enough, with a basic love song and a casual flute backing it up. However, there are hints of what is yet to come, as vocalist Kazutoshi Sakurai starts touching some intentionally flat territory now and then. By the time of the well-named "Slow Ballad," that intentional flatness has been taken to an extreme, alternately wailing cat-like and crooning off-key. Instrumentally, the band is quite good, able to use sparse fillers when called for, as in the ballads, as well as more complex ska and reggae styles when called for, as in the excellent "Tooi Sakebi." Despite the points of departure from a standard format, the singing is thoroughly developed and, when needed, Sakurai can sing beautifully, nearly making the listener forgive his past transgressions. Unfortunately for Sakurai and the Bank Band, though, it's only nearly forgivable. The album suffers under its own vocal delivery, and even the thickest brass section can only hold up so much misplaced melody.
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