Review Summary: Shiina Ringo's Sexiest Album5 of 5 thought this review was well written
If you don't count Tokyo Jihen, it was a 7 year gap between Shiina Ringo's last album (and many fan's and critics claiming it to be her masterpiece) Kalk Zamen Kuro no Hana and this latest addition, Sanmon Gossip.
Over the 7 years, we have seen Shiina Ringo form a new side project, Tokyo Jihen, who's albums while claiming to be a new band, always seem like a Ringo album in disguise. Tokyo Jihen are heavily influenced by jazz music, so it is no suprise that Sanmon Gossip has carried over this trend- heavily.
This album is about class. From the moment you pick up the CD from the store, you will notice that it is kept simple, again the track list is completely symmetrical, and it has probably the most striking album cover to date, a naked Ringo curled over. This album is her most sexy, feminine and sultry yet, from the big romping opening track Ryūkō (Vogue) to the beautiful reprise of Marunouchi Sadistic featured on the live dvd Ringo Expo '08 as its closer. Some may be put off thinking that Ringo would go back to her rock roots, but those willing to put that aside will discover arguably the best album from 2009.
This album is a tour de force. 14 amazing tracks tightly pushed into a neat 50 minute package. There is not a dull moment, the first half of the album gushes light a sweet tornado towards you, only relieved finally by the centre piece and single, Shun, which is a light and sweet ballad, accompanied by the absolute best piano solo I have come across since Tori Amos' Cornflake Girl. From there, you have the most powerful song of the album, Mayakashi Yasaotoko (fake fellow) which is a jazz rock masterpiece. Think Nancy Sinatra meets Bjork's Bacherlorette and you aren't even close. It loud, in your face and suitably leads into the next song Togatta Teguchi (Sharp Practice) which features layered beats and guitars accompanied by an electronic Ringo voice and rapper Mummy D (who also features on the opening track).
The album comes to a screeching halt for the disturbing, but utterly powerful Bonsai Hada (Ordinary Ability) which is a lone Ringo and an accordian, you can feel the pure emotion pouring out of Ringo's heart. The fact that it is the most quiet track and the most simple makes it strike like lightning on the listener. To end the album, you have the wonderfully upbeat Yokyō (Entertainment/Parlor Trick) and as mentioned before the reprise of Marunouchi Sadistic which is a half English and Japanese acapella with a groove added in later into the track.
So whether is a trumpet, saxophone, electronic beat, layered guitars, lethargic vocals, piano solos, or tap dancing that you are looking for, its all on this amazing, well produced, wonderful and wacky mixed bag of licorice allsorts. This truly is a candidate for the best album of 2009 and a must have for Shiina Ringo fans. It might not be the best starting place for new listeners (I would recommend Shouso Strip or Kalk Zamen Kuro no Hana) but it certainly is an album not to overlook.