miyavi’s “MYV☆POPS”

miyavi / MYV POPS / August 02, 2006
05. Dear My Friend -Tegami wo Kakuyou-
06. Itoshii Hito (Beta de Suman.) -2006 ver.- / 10. Oretachi Dake no Fighting Song

There comes a moment during every music lovers life when they come across an artist with a song so moving, so compelling, so unbelievably great, they can hardly believe their luck. Last year, at the beginning of July, this happened to me when I heard miyavi’s major label debut album -miyavizm-. I didn’t really know too much about miyavi except that he had a killer mohawk and a quirky sneer that sort of reminded me of hide, which in turn, sort of reminded me of Sid Vicious. Oh, and that he was once part of the visual kei band Due’le Quartz and like all Japanese punk rockers, could be mistaken for a) a woman and/or b) very gay. The song was “Papa Mama ~Nozomarenu Baby~” and why I chose to listen to this particular song first, I have no idea, but it was love at first listen. This song is so powerful and so bad ass that I immediately began playing it over and over again, ever unable to render the tune overplayed. To this day, I herald this as miyavi’s greatest, if not only, good song. Because with the exception of “Pop ‘n Roll Koshien (Baseball),” the rest of the album was simply mediocre to me. I wanted more “Mo-ee-oh“s and marching band drum entrances. I failed to receive them.

When I heard that miyavi was releasing a second album, another summer release, I was excited because I was hoping I could find another “Papa Mama ~Nozomarenu Baby~.” No wait, I was excited because I demanded it.The album is overall, more acoustic and pop driven. Unlike -miyavism-, which combined metal and grunge with the typical visual kei sound, the music is softer, though miyavi’s vocals remain at the usual 75% growl, 15% rap, 10% lyrical. I think he needs to take it easy on the vibrato, too (you are not Kyo, you are not Kyo, repeat ad infinitum). However, unlike last year’s release, I like MYV☆POPS a lot more. The album has a strong continuity and the singles blend well with the original album songs, a feat usually taken for granted in the American world, but savored in the Japanese music market, where singles are written and released among the course of a year before the artist steps into a studio for longer than a few days to record the rest of the album, at which point they may have decided they do not, in fact, like post-hardcore but would like to delve deeper into the world of ambient jazz-synth.

The songs have a distinctive upbeat rock vibe (“Dear My Friend -Tegami wo Kakuyou-,” a LUNKHEAD-look-alike) with a classy jazz feel (“We Love You ~Sekai wa Kimi wo Aishiteru~”), and a grunge acoustic sound mirroring American Top 40 (“Oretachi Dake no Fighting Song”). My personal favorite is “Itoshii Hito (Beta de Suman.) -2006 ver.-,” which begins like a serene ballad led by a simple piano and string arrangement, but eventually gathers various contemporary instruments along the way and bleeds into more mid-tempo range (not a ballad anymore, per se, but slower than the usual fare).

Sadly, my expectations for another “Papa Mama ~Nozomarenu Baby~” were not met, but the album isn’t so bad. Judging by my reaction to the last album, it’s an improvement, but levying the comparisons aside, it’s simply a decent album, neither extraordinary nor particularly bland. Make of that what you will.

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