By Paris365 on October 16, 2013No comments
Produced by the acclaimed Kotaro Kubota, Hitomi Yaida's new EP, 123456 (pronounced 1,2,3,4,5,6), once again finds the Japanese rock singer delivering some truly inspired melodic pop rock gems.
99% of the lyrics here are in Japanese, so there's not a whole lot I can tell you about the individual songs. Truth be told, they're all pretty similar, but in this case that's not a bad thing. It just means that Hitomi -- known affectionately as Yaiko by her fans -- knows what she's good at and she sticks to it. Rather than fooling around with electronic beats and such, her songs basically boil down to her fine guitar playing along with bass guitar and drums. Occasionally, there are light flourishes that may be keyboards or programming, but at their core these are rock tunes, albeit rock tunes in the pop rock vein.
The EP opens with "Don't Cry," an uppity, feel good tune that finds Hitomi as her melodious best. I often think of The Beatles when I hear her songs and it's for a simple reason: she consistently crafts some of the best and warmest melodies since The Beatles split up and it's obvious that she's been heavily influenced by them when you hear her always passionate songs here. And while I don't know what 99 percent of the lyrics of "Don't Cry" are about, I can definitely tell you that it's the sort of uplifting song that might put a smile on your face if you're feeling down. In fact, all of the songs on this EP would seem to be those sort of super happy songs.
The first single from the EP is called "Oasis" and it's a super colorful track that mixes keyboards and acoustic guitars with her electric guitar and the bass and the drums. But it's Hitomi's vocals that really make the track, her voice as joyful and inviting as it's ever been. Listening to this one on repeat might have you envisioning an oasis of your very own.
My favorite song here is "地平線と君と僕" (Google translation: "You and Me and the Horizon"), which allows the drums to dominate the mix throughout much of the song and they're wholly invigorating. I wouldn't say it's a danceable sort of beat, but it's perfect for tapping your finger or foot to. In other words, it's difficult to sit still while listening to this infectious number. Actually, that's another thing all six songs here have in common: it's hard to sit still while listening to any of them. They might not be tremendously fast songs or super heavy, but they are brimming with contagious energy that makes them impossible to resist and this EP is a must for all J-Rock fans, as well as pop fans who are looking to take a break from paint-by-numbers bubble gum pop. These songs might taste quite sweet, yes, but they do not lose their flavor, no matter how many times you listen to them. In fact, I've been listening to this one for days now and I find myself liking it more and more with each listen and would definitely have to say that it's one of Hitomi's strongest releases, which is saying a lot because she's released some truly remarkable albums during the past decade or so. -Michael McCarthy