Album Review: PLAYER – Capsule

My album reviews start with a left-field choice, but one that introduced me to an entire genre all by itself.

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Released:
March 2010
Label:
Yamaha
Genre: J-pop/Dance
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omgwhatsonhereyes?

…Nup. Can’t explain the logic here.

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TRACK LISTING

1. Stay With You
2. Player
3. I Wish You
4. The Music
5. Factory
6. I Was Wrong
7. Can I Have a Word
8. What Do You Want to Do
9. Hello
10. Love or Lies

Some time in late June, 2010, I was travelling on a long Singapore Airlines flight to South Africa when I decided to pass the time by checking out some of the Eastern music options available on their (awesome) in-flight entertainment system. The first option I chose was PLAYER, a Japanese electro-pop album that was relatively new at the time and that I knew absolutely nothing about.

A series of joyously layered synth chords immediately greeted my ears, pounding out a short tune above a bed of monotonously synchronised tones that should have sounded jarring but only felt incredibly fresh. Thus began Stay With You, the first track of the album that finally got me into J-pop after years of mere curiosity. I downloaded the full album from iTunes earlier this year.

Capsule, a duo comprised of eye-obscuring vocalist Toshiko Koshijima and producer Yasutaka Nakata, reaches a number of unique highs throughout PLAYER‘s 53-minute run time. The album is more varied and features more guest vocalists than either of the efforts Capsule released either side of it (2008’s More! More! More! and 2011’s World of Fantasy, both of which I also have in my music collection). In my opinion, this makes it superior to both.

Following Stay With You‘s bubbly Engrish assault, oddball British rap takes over for the album’s bass-heavy title-track, the first of three seven-minute epics that wouldn’t feel out of place on a club dance floor or two. The stop-start I Wish You comes before the incredibly catchy, thumping beats of The Music and the hypnotic, droning Factory.

The album then takes an unexpected turn, letting vocals dominate on the fantastic slow duet I Was Wrong. Can I Have a Word, probably the most Japanese track on the album, leads into What Do You Want To Do, which builds tantalisingly to an absolute ripper of a hook line. The short and forgettable promotional single Hello makes way for Love or Lies, which lays a series of chopped up half-syllables on top of an almost South American party rhythm to close out the album in style.

PLAYER will certainly not be everyone’s cup of tea, but as far as I’m concerned it represents a terrific example of why it occasionally pays off in a big way to step outside the music genres you are most familiar with. Consider me a Capsule fan; I am definitely looking forward to their forthcoming album release next month.

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THE VERDICT

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Strongest Tracks:
Stay With You, Player, The Music, I Was Wrong, What Do You Want To Do
Weakest Tracks:
Hello
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515/110A M A Z I N G

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