Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Hamster? I barely know 'er:
If most mainstream Japanese pop music (Morning Musume, Hamasaki Ayumi, etc.) could be compared to candy, then Chocolat's brand of j-pop would be considered ice cream. It's a sugary treat, but not so sweet as to induce rotting of the teeth. British rock, American pop, French groove, and J-pop all merge together here to produce a warm, organic bliss of an album that is cute, catchy, and done with class. The production here (by Tomoki Kanda) is really amazing, with lots of surprises. Bouncing ping-pong balls, chirping crickets, answering machines, and other odd little noises dot this power pop landscape. It's the kind of album that sounds great on the speakers and also yields new rewards when listened to on headphones.
Chocolat doesn't possess a very powerful voice, in fact, it's a bit thin and buried in the mix, but it fits the style of these songs and certainly fits the mood of the album. Every song is worthy of mention...but it's a bit of shame to report that the choice of cover song, Janis Ian's "At Seventeen", is the album's only misstep. But...that doesn't spoil this amazing album full of incredible melodies and great songwriting!
If you are a fan of The Cardigans, Wondermints, The Posies, Puffy, or Shonen Knife, then you will find yourself bowing down at the throne of this unsung pop princess! Hail Chocolat! All hail "Hamster"...an (almost) perfect pop masterpiece!