After the absolute tsunami of last week’s amazing releases, this time it’s been a slow week in new music, so it’s time to fill in another request review- this time from HarukaKamiya (or Haru). She has passed on the recommendation for the wonderful Hinano Yoshikawa album “I AM PINK“. A review I stared a few weeks back, the album has had some real time to sink in and grow. Here’s my thoughts:
Hinano Yoshikawa, in her heyday, was a ridiculously successful and popular model and actress in Japan. As what is seemingly the trend in Japan, she also dabbled in music, and this, her sole 1998 album “I AM PINK” is the result of that. Unlike many of the other model-actress-turned-singer albums out there however, this one holds some weight- most likely because of it’s involvement with acclaimed acts such as Buffalo Daughter. It is also known for it’s ridiculous cover of Strawberry Switchblade‘s “Since Yesterday”- which is really quite wonderful to behold.
The album has an uncanny ability to sneak in little bits of insanity into even the most calm of songs- the occasional blast of hard rock or over-the-top guitar solo mushed in a sweet ballad for example- and it really is effective at making it all the more memorable to the listener. The instrumental work here is tight and talented- there’s a real sense of dedication and joy that comes through the colorful mixing which makes you want to come back for more, long after the album is over. In the few weeks I’ve been listening to it, I must have played it at least 8 times in full.
Yoshikawa is no amazing vocalist or anything- but her sweet giddiness and child-like approach really fits well with the music here. The production is quite nice- and I imagine if it had come out any later, it would have suffered from being brickwalled to shit. So in that regard, it’s wonderful to hear music like this with room to breath, vocals that don’t devour their surroundings and drums that actually sound like drums. The bass is never overpowering and while the overall sound is that of sweet sugar-coated Jpop- it’s never too sickly for an outsider to enjoy.
If you could pick one song that sums up the album in a nutshell, it has to be the brilliant “Jitai wa Onna no Ko“- which bears all the hallmarks of her sound in a tight four minutes. It’s a constant shifting (and ultimately, balance) of cutesy Jpop in the traditional, cliche sense and western rock and roll. And it works a charm. Hell, even the albums last few tracks- which are remixes (usually a no-no in my book on ending an album) are truly well thought out and insanely addictive. Buffalo Daughter‘s mix of “Lululu Katamoi” is by far the standout here- a pulsing, repetitive 9 minute beast that reaches deep down and doesn’t let go. The closing track deserves a special mention too, the floaty, hynotic Midnight Dub Mix of “Shitteruyo“- a perfect way to send off the album and one of the most memorable closers I have ever come across in my experience with Japanese pop.
And sure- while the album may ultimately be a product of it’s time- it’s still delightful to listen to today. There may be some songs that suffer from being a little too long, or ballads that are a teeny bit cheesy– but I’m sure for many, it will just add to the charm. I’m more than certain this album is locked away in many listener’s hearts and memories- and to me as a newcomer to it, it’s a great, pretty, easy and most importantly, rewarding listen that’s nice to bring out every now and then.
8.5/10– Hinano Yoshikawa‘s “I AM PINK” is a gem of J-pop history. I recommend to all even slightly interested in the genre. You won’t regret it.