The delightful, heartwarming “band of travelling sisters” CHARAN-PO-RANTAN return with their new mini album Toritome Nashi (the first main release of original tracks since last years slightly disappointing “Onna no 46-pun”) to outstanding success. I don’t usually like doing ‘track by track’s but, for this one, I think it’s the only way to really do the album justice, it’s all just so damn good!
Bursting to life with single “Susume, Tama ni Nigetemo”, this is instantly fresh but familiar. To call it bright would be an understatement- this is blinding in its cheery warmth. A song that could get you out of bed on a cold morning, it’s a fantastic opening song that only is the tip of the iceberg of joy that lies beneath it.
The Seiho arranaged “Sweet as sugar” could not have a more appropriate title. The bouncy, playful track is totally infectious with it’s warm delivery. The added flutters of electro and subtle dubstep ‘wubs’ make it irresistibly perfect. Vocalist Momo’s sweet voice is a fantastic accompaniment to it, it would take someone with the coldest heart not to fall right in with it. Like when you see a ridiculously cute girl sneeze, you can only sit back and ‘awwww’ at her. It’s followed by the cute bop number “Mayuge Dance” which is as fun as it sounds and is guaranteed to be a wild live track.
“Yume Bakkari” is one of the first songs to feature guest, this one including Rina Katahira and Rei. This song takes a step back into the delightful, laid-back acoustic sound that made this listener fall in love with CHARAN-PO-RANTAN to begin with, its Frenchy chanson accordion, guitar and whistles make you drift away until… BOOM! It immaculately transcends into the the marching, sexy, kitten like “Tsuki” with it’s swirling, rhythmic string work that leaves your mouth agape with wonderment. Momo’s voice has never sounded THIS good before, this is the performance of a lifetime.
“Koi wa Timing” continues “Sweet as sugar”s use of electronic elements, again to great success. The energy is pronounced, the group play with such gusto and joy it’s very hard not to just let yourself go. The great thing is that, no matter how wild or cute they get, it never reaches any levels of overdoing it and never feels cheesy. You believe every second of it. That energy keeps building and transfers over into the next track, the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra featuring “Otakebi”, that, as you can probably guess, mixes CHARAN-PO-RANTAN’s theatrics with the bouncy SKA that Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra have made a name of- perfectly. Just breathtaking to behold, particularly its ending.
It ends with the warmest ballad I’ve heard in years, “Kanashimi”. It’s hard to not get a bit nostalgic and weepy over it’s punchy, poignant melody and heartfelt delivery. The backing vocals by Mr. Children fit perfectly, but here- the star is Momo. By the end of this track, I can guarantee that if you weren’t already, you will be totally, 100% in love with her. A masterfully presented and arranged finale to a triumphant, adorable, unforgettable return to form.
All backed with some truly impressive production values, instrumentation and a perfectly short-but-sweet run time, you’ll be spinning this one for days. Oh and look at that album cover, the pig has a helmet on. How can you not?
9/10 Toritome Nashi is the first truly great Japanese release of 2017. Unmissable. Why aren’t you listening to it right now?!!!