Review Summary: Kawaii Medium
J-pop superstar Kyary Pamyu Pamyu started a revolution and took over the world only a year ago with her debut album Pamyu Pamyu Revolution,
and now she's back to remind her fans why she's the "J-pop Princess" with the release of her second album Nandacollection.
But unfortunately lightning doesn't always strike twice as Kyary's sophomore effort leaves a lot to be desired. The album title NandaColection
is very fitting considering it flows more like a collection than a complete album. Pamyu Pamyu Revolution had not only had great singles, but also had memorable deep cuts,while Nandacollection
on the other hand is very single oriented, and the non-single tracks feel like they were written and recorded in a rush to add flow to the album, as it's clear that the singles were all recorded in different sessions over a period of time. Although Nandacollection
isn't entirely consistent, it's still a great album and a fine addition to Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's sure to be legendary discography.
Miss Kyaru's unsung parter Yasutaka Nakata does just about everything on Nandacollection.
The album credits list him as having "Written, played, arranged, produced, recorded, mixed, and mastered: the record, which is impressive to say the least. There are no studio musicians, so all of the instrumentation is done with a keyboard and a computer, and unfortunately some of the processed sounds fall flat. Artificial drums that imitate real sounding drums like on "Fashion Monster" and "Kura Kura," and the imitation horns on "Kura Kura" hamper the songs and feel really out of place. The music works best when it doesn't try to sound natural, like the heavy electronic tracks "Invader Invader" and "Saigo no Ice Cream." Kyary has never been a top notch singer as she has a very thin voice that needs a lot of help production wise. When the music is top notch however, her voice works fine. But with a few of the tracks on the record being a bit lacking musically, Kyary must rely on her personality, which unfortunately cannot save the day on its own. Nakata writes all of the music for not only Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, but Perfume and Capsule as well, and while the man's production is usually stellar, the rushed nature of this album certainly hurt his performance.
While the music on some of the deeper tracks is lacking, the singles are all top notch instrumentally and vocally. "Ninjya Re Bang Bang" is a fun little novelty track about ninjas or some shit that has some nice traditional Japanese instrumentation, while the electronic dance tune "Furisodeshon" has Kyary singing at top form and is also one of the catchiest songs she's made to date. The crown jewel of the album is "Invader Invader," whose heavy, driving electronic beat, and catchy vocals are infinitely listenable. The songwriting on the track is top notch, whose song structure flows perfectly. A little after the halfway mark of the song, a breakdown comes out of nowhere, and it serves as a palette cleanser for the bridge of the track, which is the best part of the song that also blends beautifully back into the chorus. The remaining two singles "Fashion Monster "and "Kimi ni 100 Percent" round out an outstanding group of singles that have Kyary and Nakata performing at their best.
Unlike the singles, most of the other tracks are nothing special and merely exist to expand what would be an EP, into album length. There's even a completely unnecessary cover of a Capsule song that sounds almost identical to the original and helps prove that the running time was blatantly being padded out. The tracks "Mi" and "Kura Kura" are very repetitive, and Kyary spends most of the track repeating the track titles over and over again in monotonous fashion. "M"i even borders on comical when it sometimes sounds like Kyary is saying "Meatball". The other deep cuts are good, but are not memorable and not really worth mentioning. Pamyu Pamyu Revolution
had a really memorable closer, which perfectly summed up the album and even had reprises of some of the songs. Otona no Kodomo, Nandacollection's
closer on the other hand is completely forgettable and doesn't leave any sort of closure at all. It's a shame because Nandacollection
contains five very strong singles which could have shined on their own as an EP release.
The decision to rush out a sophomore album only one year after Pamyu Pamyu Revolution
was a terrible choice. While Pamyu Pamyu Revolution
had great flow, atmosphere, and its own vibe that made it really stick out as a complete album, Nandacollection
just feels like a mishmash of subpar tracks recorded in a hurry to supplement a few months worth of singles. There are a couple of nice deep cuts, and the exceptional singles are more than enough to make Nandacollection
a worthwhile listen, but the lack of constancy and flow prevents it from being a truly remarkable record like its predecessor. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu just signed a American distribution deal with Sire Records, and I wouldn't be surprised if this album merely existed to cash in on her surprising new found popularity in America. It's a shame because the strength of the singles showed massive potential for an amazing record that could have been achieved if more time were taken to craft better songs for the ultimately disappointing Nandacollection.