Aikawa Nanase – R.U.O.K? [EP] – 3.5/5
And people thought I was kidding when I hinted this was getting reviewed. Initially discovered through unconventional means, being linked to her ‘Foxtrot’ album instead of the Genesis album by the same name, I discovered a piece of somewhat catchy J-pop, if perhaps nothing special. However, a brief bit of research yielded some interesting information regarding this mini-album and her current choice of backing musicians. Featuring Friedman (Megadeth) and Pata (X-Japan) on guitars, and Japanese Prog Rock Drummer Shinya Yamada (Luna Sea), needless to say my interest had peaked.
Now, you should not be under pretence that this is anything but a pop-rock album. The vocals are almost entirely sung in Japanese, with only the odd english phrase emerging at times (not that I believe the inability to understand what’s being said is of vital importance in this case), and is very much pop orientated. Cleanly sung with plenty of catchy tunes, soaring to high’s and lows she competently fills this album with a variety of ways to make you bounce in your seat, but this alone would not be enough for me to warrant a review for them.
Whilst at times feeling remarkably like a ‘Japanified’ US pop/rock band, your Sum 41 or Blink 182, or any other random word with a number at the end, what sets this apart is those little fills; the superb opening crunchy tone from Pata, the short guitar solo’s from Friedman, or the drum rolls featured throughout this 25-minute EP. Whilst clearly not the focus – this is STILL a solo effort at heart – it lends a continual variety to the songs, a competency from those backing her that works wonders in keeping the music catchy without sounding overtly cheesy or poorly thought out.
This album won’t be winning any awards soon, it’s far from a defining work but I never expected it to be. I was expecting something a little cheesy, with a cutesy Japanese vocalist and backing that doesn’t make me cringe, and on this front its surpassed expectations. Competently performed pop-rock; who’d have thought I’d ever be able to say that with a straight face?
Oh. And one last word: Rawr.
Highlights: Foolish 555, Rock Stars Ready, Snowfall