Review Summary: Oomori Seiko's debut finds beauty in vocal imperfection within an intimate and personal setting. A powerful debut from an up and coming Japanese female artist.
Lately, there has been a lot of buzz in the Japanese underground music scene surrounding the folksy pop artist, Seiko Oomori
. She's been called the "anti-idol", and with good reason. Her cutesy image, combined with a do-it-yourself attitude and imperfect vocal style seem like an outright attack on the idol genre as a whole. Though she seems to hold a deep respect for classic idol stars; even going out to mention them in her songs.
It's been a busy past couple of years for Seiko. Between 2012 and 2013 she's managed to release quite a collection, including an EP, two LPs, a live album, a DVD and even a collaboration album with the Japanese indie band Lai Lai Lai Team. All this in addition to constantly touring. It's easy to lose track of all the releases, but her potential jump into underground stardom started with her debut Mahou ga Tsukaenai Nara Shinitai
. Literally translating to "You want to die if you don't use magic
". It's on this album that we get an intimate look at Seiko's personality, from the almost childish, yet melancholy sounding opener "Kitty's Blues
" to closing track "Mahou ga Tsukaenai Nara
Fans of Shiina Ringo
might be excited to notice the obvious homage paid to Shiina's album Shouso Strip
on the album cover, but the music contained within is anything but similar. Besides two upbeat and quirky electronic numbers "Ongaku o Suteyo、Soshite Ongaku He
" and "Shinjuku
", the bulk of the album is filled with beautiful, intimate acoustic and piano numbers. Some album highlights include the nostalgic and upbeat "Handmade Home
" , the emotional ballad "Saishuu Koen
", and "I Love You
" wherein Seiko seems to be wearing her heart on her sleeve.
However, the album is not without its flaws. After "I Love You
" the album hits a drag with two long pieces "Kayou Kyoku
" and "Kouenji
" - the former being mostly piano and vocal driven, while the latter is acoustic - that could be tough to sit through, especially after the two powerful songs before them. Another barrier for new listeners to get through might be Seiko herself. She has a quirky and flawed vocal style that, for some people, could mean the difference between hate or love. Fans of Shiina Ringo or Jun Togawa, however, might feel right at home listening to Seiko.
Despite this, Seiko has managed to release a perfectly timed, yet flawed debut. Within time, some might see this as a classic album; imperfections considered, comparing it to the likes of Shiina Ringo's classic Kalk, Samen, Kuri no Hana
. Time will certainly tell.