大森靖子 & Theピンクトカレフ – トカレフ

5 out of 5

Label: Avex Trax

Produced by: 大森靖子 (?)

I’ve been listening to トカレフ over and over, trying to figure out some weaknesses, and… I can’t. But I do think it may get a pass in some respects, firstly due to my not speaking / reading Japanese, so my J-pop / J-rock albums can’t be assessed for their lyrical content, and I have to go a bit based on delivery, and “creativity” of the words – if the lyrics flow; if they’re sung passionately; how much repetition it is and how that may affect things, positively or negatively. I’ll general do some spot translations, and, on the whole, 大森靖子’s lyrics-as-translated are generally pretty fascinating. And of course, she’s a very emotive singer, that being a huge part of her draw. I’m just pointing out that if I understood the songs and their contexts, perhaps I’d have some more criticisms to offer.

Another “pass” here is somewhat implied by what I mentioned: I’m already familiar with 大森靖子 – quite a bit, in fact – and because there are some tracks here that are redone versions of those she’d done solo, it adds to wanting to consider this album within the scope of her career, as opposed to a standalone. 大森靖子 & Theピンクトカレフ is a reconfigured version of the solo artists as a rock band; the stuff is less “out there” than some of her albums, but that streamlining allows the group to focus on a particular sound, and they do that sound incredibly well.

トカレフ is, then, a great J-Rock album, given an extra nudge because of a frontwoman like 大森靖子, who can slickly alternate between pop-cutesy vocals, rock snark, and screaming yowls, and who adds a layer of unnerved passion on top of all of that, and her evolved composition sensibilities, which take those J-genre templates and push them to the edges, while staying within idol accessibility guidelines. Ipso facto: an album that’s essentially all singles.

Listened to as its own entity, perhaps the rating dims a bit; the redone tracks do feel like covers in a way; not quite as impactful as their initial renditions. But as seen through a 大森靖子 lens – how I’ve rated it – this is really exiting, dropping the artist into frontwoman position of a crew that rocks out like they’ve been playing together for years.