Released: July 9, 2014
Another Kyary album, another weird-ass, colorful and over-the-top album cover. Oh right, alongside some sugary sweet J-pop music and Kawaii-realness. Kyary’s 2014 studio album Pika Pika Fantajin is of course, a record filled with ridiculously weird and attractive music that still hasn’t developed a stand-out reputation in par of Kyary’s colorful outfits and cute appeal. And it’s prominent in this effort, mainly due to the lack of originality and progression since her first two albums. Still, with a four-year music career under her belt (or in her enormous weave?) since the start of 2011, what’s the point? She manages to sell her sound and work with multi-colored weaves and dresses, so why bother?
Well, Pika Pika Fantajin is typical Kyary; helmed by Capsule’s Yasutaka Nakata, played on with infectious choruses and hooks, and demonstrating another depthless chapter of feelings and lyrics. Just take “Kira Kira Killer” and “Mottai Nightland” for example; two tracks that fluff around with fantasy-like imagination and glitter aesthetics, whilst sung overtop of some trippy J-Pop music. They are two of the album’s singles, and it’s unfortunate that they both fail to push a similar ground or energy that the likes of Pamyu Pamyu Revolution and Nanda Collection did. Thankfully, the next single “Yume no Hajima Ring Ring” introduces a calmer and cooler approach of J-Pop; subtle instrumentation with that extra Kawaii element. And while “Family Party” maybe a dab into Westernized dubstep, it’s still a pretty good track.
Kyary’s music works best when it’s mashed-up with schizophrenic electronics and agile pacing, which is why “Tokyo Highway” is the much more deserved highlight. It’s reminiscence of her Nanda Collection album, and is absolutely catchy. However, the track is surrounded by other songs that either sound flat or don’t work in Kyary’s favour, including her debut-English track; the cringe-worthy “Ring a Bell”, the boring “Koi Koi Koi”, and the fail-of-a-closer “Explorer”. “Sungoi Aura”, the 11th track here, manages to be another highlight based on its fun and quirky sound, but is still drowned out by the others entries. And while “Serious Hitomi” tries to sound a bit different, it just becomes laughable (apart from the groovy chorus).
Overall, Pika Pika Fantajin is a rather disappointing follow-up to two of J-Pop’s most original and adaptable pop albums since the early 90s. Whilst there are tracks that signify Kyary’s origins as the Kawaii Queen of Pop and J-Pop Princess of cute-ness, it fails to deliver the goods like her predecessors and is a bit of a filler over time. Since it’s her first offense, I’ll let her off with a minor warning. But honey, make sure the next effort is more sweet than slightly bitter.
Track list (Bold means best tracks)
- Pikapika Fantajin
- Kira Kira Killer
- Yume no Hajima Ring Ring
- Mottai Night Land
- Serious Hitomi
- Do Do Pi Do
- Family Party
- Ring a Bell
- Tokyo Highway ~Liam’s favorite~
- Koi Koi Koi
- Sungoi Aura