Shugo Tokumaru is perhaps the most disgustingly jovial musician out there. Utilizing a myriad of instruments, both whimsical and practical, Tokumaru has a reputation of creating very lighthearted yet incredibly creative music. Singing with a chill, yet charmingly child-like voice, the Japanese native can either be taken with a grain of salt, or be declared a musical genius. It all seems so contrived, but Tokumaru truly is a skilled and thoughtful artist, receiving praise for his abundance of sheer happiness in each record he creates. Yet his most early works display his creative process in the making. Not quite as gratuitously happy, “Night Piece” and “L.S.T,” differ somewhat from his later works. While both are very interesting in their own right, “L.S.T” seems to be the black sheep of the group.
“L.S.T” is an odd record in that it shows Tokumaru in transition. Situated between the grossly cute “Exit” and the more relaxed indie effort that was “Night Piece,” “L.S.T.” seems somewhat vapid in execution. Many trademarks are here, but as a whole the affair is rather dull. The very subdued nature of the album does not do it any favors either. The lackadaisical production is amiably laidback, but it makes the entire album feel weak and lifeless. Ultimately, this is the albums biggest failing. An album that fails to grab the listener’s interest is truly missing something vital, and “L.S.T.” is certainly missing something.
This is truly a shame, as the sheer dullness detracts from everything Tokumaru does well. The child-like aesthetics mixed with cool indie vibes are still here, albeit not as strong as on other records, but there presence is clearly here. The infectious acoustic guitar still sounds perfectly placed, as does Tokumaru’s low key but appropriate voice. The musician himself still sounds great, as his performance is as strong as ever. The airy and low key production bolsters the light atmosphere, making everything smooth and breezy. Although this all sounds wonderful, it doesn’t carry over into the songwriting. As stated previously,"L.S.T." is dull. The light and chill atmosphere sounds fantastic, but it is hard to perfectly capture through song, as it so often can cause an album to feel lifeless. This does carry throughout the ten tracks, as the album seems to meander about until its inevitable conclusion. The songs flow together as much as the meld together, making the whole affair rather homogenous. Songs like “Karte” and “Mist” standout, as they offer a bit more variation, and are really very good songs in their own right.
The album I love is in here somewhere. Sure, its buried underneath a glossy layer of tedium, but the truly brilliant artist I know is here. Whether it be through his cleverly placed instrumentation, or his calming and self assured vocals, Shugo Tokumaru’s presence is here. Sadly, there is just too little inspiration to be found, and “L.S.T.” ultimately suffers because of it.