Almost exactly two years after their previous full-length, Marianne no Ougi, Kinoco Hotel returned with their 8th album this summer and for the most part, it was a great return to form for them. Besides their 2013 cover EP, Marianne no Gyakushu I consider 2014’s Marianne no Jubaku the best Kinoco album to date, as that is where they took their by then well established retro ’60s rock / group sounds inspired sound to new directions, that resulted in a still very typical, but also extremely diverse and captivating release, where each and every song was full of surprise twists and unexpected musical influences. Their albums since however, while still great in their own way, with a couple of exceptionally good songs, were more like their early releases and were simply a collection of ’60s inspired tracks, without the more experimental nature of Marianne no Jubaku. And at some points they also had bit too much of a pop feel (still ’60s pop, but pop nonetheless) that just didn’t work that well for them.

The new album opens with a rather uncharacteristic intro, that starts out as something straight out of a Philip Glass album, then brings in some organs to make it even stranger. But then ai shite agenai kicks in and things fall into place. That one is pure, essential Kinoco with its wild ’60s vibe, a bit of psychedelia, crazy organs and great melodies. Easily one of the album’s best tracks, that is followed by Chimera, which is also good, but lacks the power and edge of their better tunes and it is followed by two more songs that are quite similar and are OK, but just… aren’t that great. Then however things change for the better (much better in fact) and the slow and dreamy machi ga keiren shiteiru brings in some much needed variety, followed by another excellent and also slower tune, wagamama Tripper, which is extremely groovy and, as its title suggests, quite trippy too, with a surprise tempo change towards the end. Then we go to a completely different direction with the wild, fast, organ driven bakuren chūihō, another highlight of the album. Electro Delicate is a return to the more typical Kinoco sound, but it is a very well written fun little tune, while the closing instrumental, uruwashi no shūbun is again on the wilder side and is basically a showcase of band leader Marianne Shinonome’s insane organ skills.

While Marianne no Mikkai might not be as perfect and flawless as Marianne no Jubaku was, due to those few somewhat lesser tunes there, the rest of the album brings back the adventurous feel that was mostly missing from the last few releases and eventually make this one of the band’s best releases and certainly their best in years.

Marianne no Mikkai
2021.07.07 / cd, digital, vinyl
01.海へ… (umi e…)
02.愛してあげない (ai shite agenai)
03.キマイラ (Chimera)
04.カモミール (Chamomile)
05.断罪ヴィールス (Danzai Virus)
06.街が痙攣している (machi ga keiren shiteiru)
07.わがままトリッパー (wagamama Tripper)
08.莫連注意報 (bakuren chūihō)
09.エレクトロ・デリケイト (Electro Delicate)
10.麗しの醜聞 (uruwashi no shūbun)


A year in reviews: in 2021 I was somewhat neglecting the site due to the lack of free time, but now I try to make up for it as much as possible, reviewing several important / good / interesting albums that were released this year. One for each day throughout December, from a very wide spectrum of genres. #2021reviews