Here’s a bit of a different review. Let me explain:
So this happened on Twitter the other day:
That person (Emii) was referring to Miki Furukawa‘s first solo album “Mirrors“. So, I promptly got onto it and gave quite a few listens in preparation for this review. I have had some experience with Furukawa before, mainly with her previous (legendary) band, SUPERCAR and a couple of her later solo efforts. I have been quite impressed with everything I’ve listened to, and this album is no exception.
Being the first album after SUPERCAR‘s breakup, the sound is not that far detached from the bands sound (as opposed to later solo releases which take a more pop, even EDM edge). This is not a bad thing- the guitar driven power pop here is quite wonderful, and the production really brings out the superb texturing that is evident throughout its entire run time. There are also some electronic style tracks- but compared to her later work, they seem quite minimal and effectively mix with the more guitar based tracks. The most interesting element in the instrumental department is that of the use of electronic violin- something I have seldom seen anywhere. This really gives the album it’s own identity and voice among the sea of similar music- and makes it all the more memorable and affecting.
Furukawa’s vocals themselves are quite easy to listen to, there’s nothing particularly ‘weird’ or ‘outlandish’ about them- and this is probably really great for someone who’s only just getting into the J-scene. It has some really strong leading singles, including the truly delightful “Coffee & Singing Girl!!!” and “7 Stars“- which are instantly rewarding and easy to consume. The rest of the album flows smoothly and offers quite a bit of variety for the listener (one song that’s especially gorgeous for me is the amazing “Step by Step“). One thing that must be mentioned is the album’s knack for tracks that are JUST the right running length– avoiding the pitfall of songs that go for one minute too long (especially in ballads)- as seen in so many other J-rock releases.
While there are certain tracks that do sound a bit dated now- for the most part, it has aged quite well and will be a delightful listen regardless. It has a nice running time and never overstays its welcome. As an album goes- it’s beautifully constructed and track order is set out quite well. There’s never a moment where you feel like skipping anything- and I think this is a testament to Furakawa as a songwriter. It’s never too heavy handed and never too cookie cutter either. It’s damn near perfect apart from the aforementioned dated sounding songs.
Miki Furukawa’s MIRRORS would be a great stepping stone into the world of Japanese rock, fitting right alongside other such great introductory albums like Shiina Ringo’s “Shouso Strip” or Midori’s “Aratamemashite, hajimemashite, Midori desu.” (I mention these two from my own personal experience and from what I was generally recommended at the time that I discovered Japanese music for myself), or Furukawa’s own band SUPERCAR. A really nice, well crafted and highly enjoyable release that many may have looked over before.
If you haven’t listened to this album, do yourselves a favor and get onto it as soon as humanly possible. For those well acquainted with it, perhaps take some time out to revisit and relive the rewards that “Mirrors” delivers.
8/10– A great album that any J-rock fan should have in their collection.