Review Summary: The Pillows continue to wallow in musical flaccidity.
Alright, one more album of this crap until we get back into some sorta-compelling Pillows records. Horn Again is the last of The Pillows' worst three albums. Any of the songs from Horn Again, Pied Piper, and OOPARTS could be arrange in any order, and still be completely indistinct from each other. To someone unfamiliar with The Pillows, Horn Again will sound like competently-played, middle-of-the-road alternative rock. To Pillows fans, nothing short of microscopic examination will reveal anything of much value. This record is mass-produced pablum akin to every other record they've released with a the title in a big, all-caps Impact typeface, right down to yet another song nearly identical to Scarecrow ("Brilliant Crown").
Okay, look, there's one whole good song on here. One. "Movement" is a nice single with some good melodies that recall the best parts of albums like Good Dreams and My Foot, particularly in the verses. The guitar tones sound nice, and Sawao Yamanka's vocals are enjoyable. "Lily, My Sun" also isn't bad, but The Pillows have literally dozens of songs in the same vein that do the same thing, but better. "Sad Fad Love" has some nice guitar melodies, but Yamanaka's bland Engrish squawking drags it down.
Compounding the frustration about Horn Again is that as problem-ridden as it is, it's hard to really say anything bad about it. It's not filled with terrible creative missteps, it's just really, really boring. And for a band that built its reputation on straight-ahead, emotional rock sounds, that might be a bigger crime than the flat-out missteps on albums like Penalty Life. The closest this record comes to that is "Nobody Knows What Blooms," which sounds pretty good aside from nose-wrinklingly-ugly horns that pop up at the worst times. At least the song titles are memorably bad, with the contents doing little to redeem ridiculous names like "Limp Tomorrow" and "Doggie Howl."
Fortunately, with this uninspired trio of albums out of the way, The Pillows return to better songwriting with their next record, 2012's Trial.