HANAE: SHOWGIRL

By Paris365 on March 29, 2016

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Release Date

3/23/16

Genre

J-pop

Label

Universal Music

I just reviewed Hanae's super fun single "Shugarirura" the other day and I am quite happy to tell you that she's just released a stellar new album full of deliciously quirky new tunes. And while it's only March, I can pretty much guarantee you that this one will fall within my top 20 albums of 2016. It's that darn good.

The album opens with "パーティへようこそ," which Google translates as "Welcome to Party," and you'll feel like you just stepped into a house with a crazy good party happening when you play it. It almost makes me feel like someone just shot a confetti gun above my head whenever I do. It's got all sorts of zany sounds going on. Driving the song is a nice electronic beat and some fluttery percussion, but there's also somewhat jazzy piano that sounds like came from the 1940's, kazoos, horns, the occasional guitar, etc. It overflows with a contagious energy that will have you bouncing off the walls. It reminds me of the sort of music that would play during a chase scene on old Tom & Jerry cartoons. It has a comical vibe you just don't get from most pop tunes.

One thing there's no denying about this album is that it makes spectacular use of stereo with different sounds coming out of your left and right speaker all the time. To that end, it almost gives the songs a three dimensional effect, like the stereo versions of classic songs by The Beatles. On "Candy" you'll hear horns coming from the left and whistling coming from the right, for example. At one point when the drums are the focus, you only hear the cymbals on the right while the other beats are heard via both speakers. One listen to this record and you'll be cursing other artists for not using the stereo element so cleverly.

The party slows down to a funky groove on the forth track, "XXX." I don't know how explicit the lyrics are, but it's kind of like Chara if she had made a sexy funk tune back in the '70's. It even feels slightly psychedelic.

"小さな恋のものがたり" -- Google translate: "of a small love story" -- is a pretty ballad with music mostly comprised of piano and strings. It also reminds me of Chara -- they have a similar vocal tone -- particularly her Madrigal album. If you put it in between any two of the songs on Madrigal and asked someone which track isn't by the same artist as the others, they could very well get it wrong.

"Love Motion" features everything from razor sharp electric guitar to record scratching, which aren't things you hear on all of the tracks, yet it blends in just fine. It has the same light-hearted playfulness most of the songs have.

"Last Teen" sounds like it could be a lost Puffy Amiyumi song with its mix of vibrant drums and rocking guitars. It reminds me of music that would play on one of those carnival rides where you sit in what looks like a centipede and go around in circles with waves. Suffice to say it's a good time.

I could find things to write about the other tracks as well, but I feel like I've said too much already. I don't want to spoil it for you. But then nothing anyone could write would spoil this album because it's that spectacular that no matter how much I praise it, you're still going to be impressed. It's not like I'm setting the bar so high that you'll be disappointed. You can't set the bar high enough on this one. -Michael McCarthy

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