Les 5-4-3-2-1

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A quite enjoyable addition to the Shibuya-kei stable, Les 5-4-3-2-1 takes its name from a Manfred Mann song and its style from French pop of the '70s and '80s. Lead guitarist, bassist, songwriter, and…
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A quite enjoyable addition to the Shibuya-kei stable, Les 5-4-3-2-1 takes its name from a Manfred Mann song and its style from French pop of the '70s and '80s. Lead guitarist, bassist, songwriter, and all-around busy man Sally Kubota formerly played in the Phantom Gift, the short-lived beat-combo revival group from 1987, and is one of the major players in a scene that bred Pizzicato Five, Original Love, and the Pearl Brothers. (Saeki Kenzo, of the latter group, occasionaly turns up on Les 5-4-3-2-1 albums as musician and co-composer.) The vocal duties were filled by the very cute Hitomi, who later became referred to as Hitomi 19 to stop confusion with the much more popular Avex Trax artist hitomi. The group's debut -- on Triad, the label of Pizzicato Five and the Escalators -- consisted of two EPs: Un and Deux, 20 minutes each of light, dancey pop with French affectations (occasionally singing quite badly in French). Mon Cheri Go Go followed in 1994, most notable for containing a techno cover of Serge Gainsbourg's "69 Anée Erotique." After refining their pop on 1995's La Ronde, Hitomi 19 left and was replaced by Arimi Matsuno, formerly a member of the pop group Ribbon. The sound immediately changed to a harder, rock-techno feel to match Matsuno's more mature voice (close in style to Maki Nomiya). Pre-pop appeared the same year as Hitomi's departure and the group went on to make two more albums in the same vein, 12x2 and 1973. Les 5-4-3-2-1 rounded out its contract with The Very Best of Les 5-4-3-2-1 for Hitomi 19, which focuses on the early years; Kubota went on to join the short-lived Pillow Talk.