What's Love?

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With Juju splitting her musical time between New York and Japan, her sound is in many ways more Westernized than the average J-pop/J-R&B singer. However, it's not clear on What's Love? that the style is a good thing. Where other songstresses can experiment, Juju seems to be stuck in the sound of 1994 with pseudo-sultry R&B bits and tepid backup vocals. She tries a couple of interesting ideas out -- big-band jazz built into "My Life" that lets her show off her actual vocal skills with less need to simply keep up with a standardized bit of song, for example. Unfortunately, those moments are few and far between; Juju instead tends to simply warble her way through the nothingness of the compositions, creating forgettable pop and R&B without leaving a trace in the listener's ear. Perhaps the best piece comes when Juju has given up the facades of modern pop, combining with Mongol800 for a particularly lazy back-and-forth acoustic number. The song never quite takes off, but it's got more emotion in its quietude than the rest of the album puts together collectively. There's promise in Juju's work, but it's far from realized. Once she finds a path toward individuality in her sound, there should be greater promise ahead.

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