Me-Al-Art – 生まれてきたけれど – 4.5/5
This is not an album that has had a small number of plays in the last few weeks, but I've been struggling with just how to tackle it. On the surface there seems to be little that feels unique; in fact for a Japanese artist it has a surprisingly western feel to it all, particularly where the vocals are concerned. And yet despite this apparent unoriginality it never seems to become tiring, always straddling that line between familiarity and something new with every turn right from the get go; an almost jazz like gift for experimentalism, playing around with guitar tones and drum fills flitting in and out of the song's heart, it's hard to put your finger on just how they accomplish treading this fine line. A dozen plays later – my interest still going strong – and the only thing I've managed to conclude is that they simply must do it really well.
Much of the focus falls onto the vocals, as happens perhaps all too often with many artists, but she's more than capable of facing up to the scrutiny. There are times where I'm forced to double-take as you realise the language is foreign as often it'll feel like an all too familiar voice, perhaps sitting somewhere between Tori Amos and Alanis Morisette; the ever present acoustic guitar making it's presence heard combining with her almost schizophrenic ability to transition from a gentle melancholy to screaming her lungs out about everything that's wrong in the world. And even though I haven't even the faintest idea what the track titles mean, somehow her point feels made, even if the finer details are lost in translation.
So I've described what makes them good but I feel no more compulsion to reach for an old Alanis Morisette CD as I do listen to someone pretend to be her, which makes it all the more fortunate that this isn't another generic singer-songwriter but an actual band complete with capable instrumentation. The bass adds an almost ambient backing to the composition, providing its own distinct lines that work as much with the aggressive guitars during the energetic passages as with the delicate overlaying riffs performed almost as a piano. With compositions that seem to evolve throughout the track's length, for all it's simplicity, the marriage of all the instruments performing their own subtly varying lines working in unison with one another is one that's hard to beat. Enigmatic, Epic, Emotional and Energetic; Me-Al-Art are unquestionably my unlikely discovery of the past month.
Highlights: 生まれてきたけれど, ありきたりな日常, もう一人のボクに
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