Tomiko Van / Flower / June 07, 2006
Flower / 02. Brave
I definetely would not call myself a Tomiko Van connoisseur. When this, her debut single, was released, I figured it was merely the first song to begin her hopefully burgeoning solo career. Not so. Apparently, Van already released an entire debut solo album, FAREWELL, in March of this year. Whoa. Missed that one. Here’s what I can confidently say I know: Van was the singer in the now defunct Japanese pop/rock disaster known as Do As Infinity. I know this is personal taste and there are hundreds, fine, thousands who will refute this claim, but besides their single Shinjitsu no Uta, I have failed to find anything likable in their music. Sort of rock, really pop, and very bad, they took all the worst aspects of Japanese pop music, crammed it into three minutes worth of noise dispersed across 70-some minutes of an album and repeated the process monthly, churning out singles and albums on a steady basis for almost five years. To me, their only saving grace was one Dai Nagao, who worked beside pop princess Ayumi Hamasaki for many years, surprisingly churning out incredible songs, while his own pet project lagged behind in innovation, spirit, and depth.
So you can imagine what sort of preconceived notions I had before I even played “Flower.” Also, keep in mind this review rests on the fact that I have heard not one song off of Van’s first album. And it’s a good thing I didn’t waste my time with that. “Flower” is not a bad song, but it’s not that good. It’s simply mediocre, and I’m losing interest in accepting mediocrity. It uses a lot of acoustic guitars, and though the beat is up tempo, it’s akin to a seventy year old chain smoker climbing a hill for the first time since he first picked up a cigarette when he was fifteen; this song huffs, puffs, and wheezes itself to reach that hill of summer carefree bliss, but collapses in on itself halfway there. I listened to this song a few times and it did nothing for me. The Oricon charts have basically been charting a roster of summer pop hits since that first ray of sunshine beamed in May and this song merely gets lost in the school of fish. Guppies, mostly.
The second song, “Brave,” is another acoustic pop number I wouldn’t even mention if not for its mere existence on this single.
Van is going to have to do a lot better than this. Or simply a lot to dig herself out of this hole of acoustic failure. Nowhere on this single have I felt I was dealing with an experienced pop singer. Nowhere on this single have I felt those five years of work in a professional musical environment manifest itself. Nowhere. Which is where this single is going, and probably, Van herself.