For years, many people have been criticizing pop icon Kyary Pamyu Pamyu for being too predictable, having next to no variety in her music. Which is true after all, but then again, you have to give her (and of course her producer / songwriter Yasutaka Nakata) that she’s got a very unique style and actually consistently sticking to it is, in a way, what makes her Kyary. On the other hand, while it is really hard to imagine her without that trademark quirky, tacky take on electropop, the few occasions when Nakata went to a slightly different direction with her usually turned out pretty well. So when the first reactions to Candy Racer praised it as her most experimental album yet, it got me very curious. But eventually it turned out to be more of a mixed bag.

I understand where those reviews about the album being experimental were coming from as it indeed starts with a highly unusual set of songs. After a short (hardstyle influenced!) intro the title track opens the album and it switches between an edgier sort of heavy EDM / techno beat and the sweet, upbeat chorus part, which is a return to Nakata’s early, Shibuya-kei influenced days with his main project, Capsule. Two distinctively different styles, but Nakata somehow finds the right balance between them and it all works out surprisingly well at the end. And it is followed by the album’s strangest tune, Dodonpa, which is more like an experimental techno track with some Kyary voice samples thrown in here and there. At first listen I did not like these two tracks that much, but they eventually grow on you and they also mark a very interesting new possible direction for Kyary.

However… the experimentation stop right there. From the fourth track on there is nothing even remotely unusual, it is as if we were listening to a completely different album with nothing, but yet another dose of very, very typical Kyary tunes. It is not a problem though, as basically from then on you get what you expect when you pick up one of her releases, but it just works and feels very strange that after such a different start it suddenly turns into a very generic KPP release. And it isn’t just the sound that’s exactly like any of her previous albums, but also the uneven quality. You have stuff like Gum Gum Girl, one of the five single tracks that made it to the album and it is still one of the best Kyary tunes from the last couple of years. It is nothing new, really, just a very well written song, made in the most typical Kyary style with cheerful, upbeat electropop music and her trademark childish singing. Other highlights include the return of the shibuyakei-ish sound in Gentenkaihi, another fun little tune and in the closing World Fabrication, which is an actual Capsule cover. But then you have obvious fillers like Perfect Oneisan, and stuff like Natsuiro Flower, which tries to sound like a ’70s kayokyoku pop song, but just ends up being annoying.

So yeah, it is a mixed bag in many ways. It tries to offer something for everybody and at certain points it almost succeeds, but at the end it just isn’t enough. There are those two tracks for the ones yearning for something new, which is nice, but not much and besides those we have an intro, five tracks which are mostly good, but were already released as singles, one cover and two new ones, which are, well, not really good.

01.De. Ba. Ya. Shi. 2021
02.Candy Racer (キャンディーレーサー)
03.Dodonpa (どどんぱ)
04.Kamaitachi (かまいたち)
05.Gentenkaihi (原点回避)
06.Kimi ga Iine Kuretara (きみがいいねくれたら)
07.Gum Gum Girl (ガムガムガール)
08.Perfect Oneisan (パーフェクトおねいさん)
09.Jumping Up (じゃんぴんなっぷ)
10.Natsuiro Flower (夏色フラワー)
11.World Fabrication


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