Review Summary: Chockful of psychedelic and folk influences over a highly addictive new wave canvas, makes "Hikari no ko" one of the most ambitious and creative Japanese rock albums to be released within the last 30 years.
Hardly any band to surface from the Japanese 80's music boom was as original as Pink. Full of dizzying influences, ranging from tropical music, folk, psychedelic, and good ol' fashioned 80's new wave, Pink were one of those bands that were too weird for even Japan to digest. The group split in 1989, but, years after their disbandment, the band developed a huge cult following, which is still growing to this day, over two decades after their initial disbandment. One of the best examples to project Pink's unique style was 1986's "Hikari no ko", their first full length album.
The album's opening track, the self-titled "Hikari no ko", opens with an array of various sound bits, before projecting with a hyperactive flickering rhythm, with frontman Yutaka Fukuoka harmonically crooning along the bouncy, screwy tone of the track. "Hikari no ko" effortlessly does a satisfying job of laying down the foundation of what is to come. "Nisshoku Dan -Solar Eclipse-" is probably one of the most unique tracks on the album, as it successfully combines a new wave rhythm with tropical and African harmonics. Fukuoka's strong vocalization is also quite outstanding on the outstanding track. The chorus is also quite remarkable, as it bleeds a drained chorus with Fukuoka's razor sharp vocals. A song that exemplifies strong emotion and melody, "Nisshoku Dan -Solar Eclipse-" easily morphs itself into being one of the most solid and memorable tracks on the album. "Hiding Face" is another screwy track that uses a fizzled guitar and chopped synths with various sound bits on-top of a bubbling new wave rhythm. A nice track, although not on the same level as "Nishhoku Dan". "Don't Stop Passengers" is one of Pink's most well known songs, and for obvious reason, as it does not exhibit the same amount of experimentation as the previous tracks. Probably the most approachable song on the album, "Don't Stop Passengers" definitely stands out like a sore thumb for its highly mainstream sound, and its lack of various impressive elements may limit from being cutting edge like the rest of the tracks, but its melody is at least enjoyable.
"Aoi Hitsuji no Yume" suddenly blasts off into the earlier, more original, tracks on the album. With a popping bass line, the song centers around a screwy keyboard pattern, and Fukuoka's vocals remain to be the cherry on the sundae. The faded bridge towards the end of the song is also noteworthy, as it shows Fukuoka's vocals fading with a backup singing group alongside. The song then is briefly revisited, with the backup group echoing the chorus with Fukuoka. A nice revival, and a damn good song at that. "Hoshi no Picnic" focuses in on the psychedelic aspect of the album, with psychedelic guitars combined with psychedelic-inspired keyboards. The song has a nice progressive feel to it, and the harmonics are absolutely astounding. All of these elements puts "Hoshi no Picnic" right next to "Solar Eclipse" in terms of memorability on the album. The album's final track, "Luccia", is a creative piece which whimsically combines light psychedelica with ambient-like synth lines. The song's dreary tone, and Fukuoka's vocals as strong as ever, makes the song a breathtaking one, and a beautiful closer to such a remarkable album.
When it's all over, it becomes apparent to the listener that "Hikari no ko" relies heavily upon originality. While it uses the typical new wave style, it manages to become different from the other albums of the time by using an impressive array of catchy melodies, unorthodox musical hooks and remarkable vocalization. For what it's worth, "Hikari no ko" is indeed one of the most original and fulfilling albums to come out of Japan in the last 30 years. With albums such as this, it is no wonder why Pink are becoming more and more beloved among various music fans as time goes on.