Album reivew: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu - Pika pika fantajin

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu - Pika pika fantajin (ピカピカふぁんたじん) | Random J Pop

Judging from Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's third studio album Pika pika fantajin (which literally translates at Sparkling fantasy person) it would seem that the princess of all things colourful and zany has come full circle and somewhat settled down. Not with a man. But with herself. She is still bat shit crazy. But everything feels dialled down now in comparison to when Pamyu Pamyu was farting rainbows in her "Ponponpon" music video. She seems less insistent of jumping in your face and f**king it with colour, almost in an act of acceptance that everybody has already entered the gateway into her zany world, so she can now focus into showing you around it. This shift is actually brilliance, because it gives you chance to sit back and actually take in just how brilliantly meticulous every aspect of her career has been up until this point. The girl is a package unlike any other, which boasts a level of creativity and consistency which no artist in the West is even close to touching. Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, Katy Perry, Azaelia Banks and Lady Gaga can all take seats.


Despite being three albums deep into her career and pretty much owning the whole of Japan, I still get the feeling that Pamyu feels that she has to prove herself. But she seems much more assured of herself as a brand. Before people were wondering who she was, watching her like a goldfish in a bowl. Now Pamyu is the one watching us as we become enthralled in a world she's been curating for the past 4 years. Pussy Pam has completely outgrown the 'Princess of Harajuku' moniker. She is now the princess of her own kingdom. Her own world. The one she transports us to with every song and every music video. If Pamyu Pamyu Revolution was the gateway to her world and Nanda collection was her beckoning us into it, then Pika pika fantajin is her house warming party. A declaration of utter acceptance of where she stands in our world as well as her own.

The production on this album is stellar and is one of the most consistent albums Nakata has helmed from start to finish in quite some time. The melodies are catchy, the compositions feel tight and there is never a dull moment within any of the songs. Nakata seems to have gone into this album producing it much like a score. Throughout the album you can hear influences of Disney and even Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker. There is so much playfulness, whimsy and character in his productions on this album that it elevates many of the songs from being mere pop songs.

Right off the bat Pika pika fantajin sounds much more organic than Nanda collection. Every song feels like it's spun from the same thread as songs such as "Furisodeshon" - featuring pianos, raw drums kits and un-effected vocals from Kyary herself. These songs feel like themes as opposed to your standard pop song. "Family party", "Mottai nightland", "Yume no hajima ring ring" and "Sungoi aura" all tow this line. Every song feels like a soundbyte which represents a moment in the life of Pamyu Pamyu in Pamyu Pamyu's world. Even the intro to the album feels like something out of a Disney movie and thematically sets the arc of the album. As a soundtrack to Pamyu Pamyu's world and Pika pika fantajin succeeds in this respect. The drawback to this is that as a whole the album feels more like a thematic soundtrack than a pop album, which may displease those who were hoping for a more pop oriented offering.

Yasutaka Nakata has become as infamous for his album mixes as his hair and crooked grill as a result of his work on Perfume's JPN and LEVEL3, both of which saw Nakata produce album mixes which paled in comparison to the single mixes. For the first time in Pamyu Pamyu's discography, Nakata has developed album mixes for two of Pamyu's singles and one of its B-sides ("Sungoi aura"). Unlike Nakata's mixes for Perfume (which in most cases re-worked the songs completely to a point where your opinion of it would change completely from how you felt about it when you first heard it as a single) his mixes for Pussy P are much more subtle and don't break the songs in the same way his album mix broke perfection such as Perfume's "Glitter". The additions come in the form of extended instrumental passages, additional instrumentation's here and there or the odd key change (i.e the opening passage to "Yume no hajima ring ring"). The intention of these album mixes seem to be to create a version of these songs which will work better when performed liv. The additional instrumental passages in "Sungoi aura" will allow for Pamyu do dance her little routine without having to focus on miming singing and the section in "Yume no hajima ring ring" where the music is stripped down to just finger snaps and hand claps during the final run of the chorus will allow for Pamyu to command that the audience clap and sing along with her.

Where this albums falls slightly short from Nanda collection is that whilst the album is consistent as a whole, it doesn't leave as much of an immediate or lasting impression. Nanda collection featured some amazing stand out songs which struck you right between the eyes and elicited an instant reaction. "Serious hitomi" is spunky, angsty and thrashy, but it never reaches the pinnacles which "Fashion monster" managed to reach and wring by the neck. "Kira kira killer" is the albums hero song which will be the ultimate crowd pleaser when she performs it live, but it isn't as cool or as genre bending as "Invader invader" was. There is no song on the album which is as downright funky and as audacious as "Mi", nor is there a song so f**ked up that you just find it hilariously cool (i.e "Noriko to norio"). Pamyu Pamyu is getting older, so naturally her music is going to reflect that to a degree and be less hyperactive. Whilst Pika pika fantajin isn't a direct reflection of Pusha P's growing up, it definitely shows signs as such, as explicitly laid out in the song "Yume no hajima ring ring". It's also reflected in the album arts to an extent, which in comparison to Nanda collection are pretty normal, even by general pop music standards.

Pika pika fantajin's dynamic is very different to that of Nanda collection. Nanda collection featured a lot more filler, but the songs which were good were amazing and really stood out to such an extent that they defined the album between them. Pika pika fanatjin on the other hand features no filler at all. Every song is decent, but there isn't one particular song which stands out head and shoulders above the rest or manages to usurp Nanda collection's best moments. This creates a seamless listening experience, but also causes the album to be quite forgettable because nothing really sticks out when you listen to the whole thing from start to finish. This makes the album difficult to score for me, because as a body of work, it's solid. But Nanda collection left more of an impression on me. Not just because I wasn't expecting the album to be that good, but because the album was actually quite cool. Pika pika fantajin whilst well produced and wholesome isn't cool. There isn't a song on this album I would recommend to somebody without them watching the video or a commercial visual to go along with it. Where-as with Nanda collection I could recommend about four songs and be confident that even without a visual they'd warm to the song and find it cool in some aspect. Even for me, though I found there to be more album highlights on this album than Nanda collection, I can't see myself playing any of the songs from this album to the extent of "Invader invader", "Ninja re bang bang" or "Mi", all of which I played to death and still play now. "Mi" is a permanent fixture on my 'Workout' and 'Poppin' in the car' iPod playlists.

What is certain is that Pika pika fantajin is a solid album and there is definite growth from Nanda collection, however subtle it is. Given Kyary's premise and stumble into music because 'its the cool thing to do' she shouldn't even have a third album out, let alone it be this good. Whilst not as sonically dynamic and explosive as Nanda collection was, Pika pika fantajin is a much more consistent album, proving that the chemistry which Pussy Pam and Yasutaka Nakata have is no fluke. Between them they have managed to make 'Pamyu Pamyu' a genre unto itself between his music and her visual aesthetic - both of which could not be any more symbiotic. But I would like to hear Pamyu and Nakata up the ante for the next album. With Pamyu already amassing a collection of themes with this set, I'd love for Pussy Pam to run rampant with some pop bangers for her next album, of which Pika pika fantajin lacks.



Album highlights:
■ Pika pika fantajin
■ Kira kira killer
■ Yume no hajima ring ring
■ Mottai night land
■ do do pi do
■ Koi koi koi
■ Sungoi aura ★ J's fave

8 comments:

  1. I enjoy this review! You definitely put into words my thoughts on the consistency of the album but the lack of any real big pop bangers. I think my favorite track is "Ring a Bell." The first time I listened to it, I couldn't stop laughing and smiling while sitting on the bus. This is definitely the KPP housewarming party.

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  2. gee just marry her already.

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  3. It's only 5.9/10 for me.
    The record is a nice collection of songs, but doesn't feel like a proper album.
    As her usual, the highlights are the singles while the album tracks are just nice (sometimes bad) fillers and fail to make any impression.
    Fans may find this album quite appealing, but casual listeners better wait for her imminent best album.

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  4. I wasn't exactly sure where to sit on this album because as I listened, it felt more like "more Kyary", which is inherently good in my mind, but I wanted to hear some "new Kyary". So of course I like it, but I was looking for a bit more adventure sonically. I completely agree with the sentiment of this being a transitional album. That being said, I feel she oughta take a year off and Nakata should experiment with CAPSULE for a bit or else we'll end up with at least two or three more of these before we see any major developments in Kyary's sound.


    P.S.: "Ring a Bell" is definitely my new hype song before I get to work recording a new song!

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  5. Going by her album sales, I don't think you'll have a problem with lines.

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  6. I love this album! But...



    "The girl is a package unlike any other, which boasts a level of
    creativity and consistency which no artist in the West is even close to
    touching. Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, Katy Perry, Azaelia Banks and Lady
    Gaga can all take seats."

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  7. ‘PamyuPamyuRevolution’
    is still my favorite Kyary album. I have never loved non singles as much as I
    do on ‘PamyuPamyuRevolution’.

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