13 jours au Japon ~2020 Nippon no Natsu~.
Let’s just say it outright. Yes, this may be a cover, but this is the best Shiina Ringo song since her work on the Ichigo Ichie- Doku Ichigo record. It’s a beautiful, gentle, frail track that for what seems a lifetime- feels truly personal and touching. The most surprising element is how much it holds back- it’s just humble and lovely- and never ever gets showy. The production here- and yes, we’re talking about a Shiina Ringo release– is absolutely beautiful- it’s warm, organic and the instrumentation comes across perfectly. The sense of perfect control is truly majestic, and far from the unneeded pompous explosions of sound from more recent works.
This is the Shiina Ringo I’ve so sorely missed. More like this, PLEASE!
Jiyuu dom on the other hand, is not so hot. The NHK variety show “Gatten“s theme song is exactly as it sounds- a goofy throwaway, inoffensive variety song. However…
At least it does one thing, reminds of the old days. A song so clearly Phase 2 Tokyo Jihen (even featuring the group as part of the backing band, along with Saito Neko‘s usual generic fills) is at least a little bit fun to hear in 2016, and makes me yearn for the times where if a Ringo song was bad- it was at least still fun to laugh at. The sense of playfulness that Tokyo Jihen had- even in their lesser moments- is front and center here- so it’s hard to fully hate this one. Sure, there’s nothing remotely interesting to speak of and it still has that awful, stale, cold, digital production value that has plagued Shiina Ringo releases for the past few years (not to mention it being released during the insipid DO IT FOR A PRODUCT TIE-IN phase that hopefully, now that Ringo has gotten her “Olympic kicks” out, will calm down) but at least it still sounds like Shiina Ringo just being Shiina Ringo, for better or worse. I certainly won’t be playing it much but as long term fan, I can accept it. The remix is completely forgettable but cute.
Basically, it’s fundamentally terrible but it’s fine with this listener.