Review Summary: Shugo Tokumaru brings everything except the kitchen sink in his remarkably fun and enjoyable third album.
Shugo Tokumaru is a native of Tokyo, Japan, and a musical visionary. To say he's got some music chops would be an understatement. In the 35 min. run-time of Exit, Tokumaru's third record, fifty instruments were used, and used with incredible proficiency. Well, most were instruments. Said instruments ranged from acoustic guitar and drums, to childrens' toys, forks, and doorbells. Its this obscure and massive array of sounds that gives "Exit" its overall vibe, and thankfully, it all works for the best.
"Exit" could best be described as an indie record with splashes of folk, and pop undertones. Tokumaru stated that his main inspirations were Japanese pop and a few Beatles records. That sound certainly permeates the album, giving it a very "whimsical" feeling without sounding forced or cheesey. Its a very colorful affair, almost exclusively in major key. Everything heard on "Exit" was recorded, mixed, and produced on his laptop. That being said, the production is absolutely fantastic. The overall sound of the album is incredibly fun, catchy, and surprisingly deep.
Tokumaru does an amazing job with each instrument, regardless of how ridiculous or avant-garde it may be. Each chord of his keyboard, pang of his acoustic, or clap of his hands is meticulously placed. The really focal point his is acoustic guitar. He's actually a fantastic guitar player, showcasing many different styles and tones. He goes way above and beyond simply playing chords, but adds tremolo and finger picking segments as well, which layer even further an already very layered album.
"Exit" isn't perfect however. The biggest issue is it's length and song content. It's a fairly short affair, lasting a little over a half an hour. Not every album needs to be a 70+ min. epic, but after the last strum was heard, I felt a little empty, wishing there was a tad bit more content. Another complaint is the lack of a true standout. Each song is great, and thoroughly enjoyable. However, there isn't a single song that really describes the album. "Parachute" was a great single, but does little to showcase the album as a whole. His voice is also a tad lackluster. Its adequate, and at times incredibly soothing and fitting for the song, but he never really strays too far from his established vocal sound. And while there is so much variety in the instruments he plays, this definitely is an issue.
These complaints are minor compared to everything Tokumaru has accomplished with "Exit." This is truly a work of pure genius, and the labor of a man doing what he really loves to do. Its obvious he had a great time making "Exit," and that enthusiasm completely shines through.