Review Summary: A new stereophonic sound spectacular.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
From the opening track, a simple spoken-word introduction called “This Year’s Girl #4”, to the quiet little jazz tune “I (All About Me)”, the band attempts to gently pull the curtains from their brand new sound, a package that would contain every little gift the band would give out for the next decade. The title of “I (All About Me)”, as well as the album’s title, implies the band is introducing their new vocalist, Maki Nomiya, perhaps to ease listeners into what they call “a new stereophonic sound spectacular”. Nomiya’s voice proves to be the most engaging the band has had yet, as she brings forth a sense of whimsy and style that makes up the band’s personality. The rest of This Year’s Girl
is filled with the music that simply defines the band as a whole. Some of the band’s best songs can be found here, including “Twiggy Twiggy”, a song establishing their cheerful and zany dance stylings, and “Baby Love Child”, which flirts with the retro and old-school while remaining sweet and delicate at its core.
Pioneers of the Japanese "shibuya-kei" movement in the 90’s, the genre is credited to the group’s fusion of several styles including jazz, electro-pop, soul, and ye-ye. This Year’s Girl
no longer sees the band testing the waters or touring the avenues of musical ideas. They’ve clearly found out what they want to do with their sound, and taken it in the appropriate direction accordingly. It’s a more focused effort, and the entire band sounds passionate, not just their zealous new vocalist. While they up the ante even more on their follow-up effort, Bossa Nova
, it’s good to see the band treading new territory with a sense of direction and motivation, leaving a great first impression for their new sound. Those interested in their music would find This Year’s Girl
a great entryway because they demonstrate their various influences effectively and distributed nicely.
They aren’t full-fledged multi-genre experts by any means, and when hitting on a specific genre, tend to take a simpler approach doing so. Technicality isn’t their thing, and it never will be. The aforementioned “I (All About Me)” is very basic French-flavored jazz, and doesn’t aim for much more than the simple intricacies of light, catchy melodies. They trade in sophisticated technique for chic style and verve and they get along just fine. Further down the album you’ll find hybrids like “Let’s Be Adult”, which is also very basic in combining funk and pop together. Closer to the end, you’ll find the snazzy house-influenced “You (I Wanna Be Like You)”, and in the same vein as “I”, suggests that they want to branch out a bit and try new things, hence “I wanna be like you”. Pizzicato sticks their noses in electronic business a few times, specifically on “Party”, the bleep-infused “Marble Index”, and the Kraftwerk
-y “Birth of Cool”. They execute their many different soundscapes well, and as the album is rich with variety, never becomes inconsistent. This should be credited to the zesty “Twiggy Twiggy”, the song that fuses some of their assorted styles the best, and proves to the listener that the band knows what they’re doing. A few songs drag but it’s mostly due to going on for a bit too long, such as “Thank You” and the unnecessary “Shiritori Wo Suru Koibitotachi”. In terms of individual songs however, basically no 2 songs sound alike and continue to surprise and excite until the end of the album.
With their fourth full-length release, the band has redefined their sound, and redefined pop music in the process. In the past, their music hadn't combined genres quite like it does now, and it wasn’t nearly as accessible and charming either. Pizzicato Five are for the first time a fully-realized ensemble who know their limits and are catching everything they’ve been chasing. This is simply the music the band has always wanted to play, which is good seeing as it defined a genre of shibuya-kei pop music. This is the essential Pizzicato Five album right after Bossa Nova
, but only because of a couple of filler tracks and at this point they haven’t attained the passion they would with their 1993 follow-up.
“Let’s Be Adult”
“You (I Wanna Be Like You)”
“Baby Love Child”
“I (All About Me)”