Album review: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu - Nanda Collection

Album review: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu - Nanda collection | Random J Pop

I never thought I'd see the day when I would like Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's music.

As a Perfume fan who felt Yasutaka Nakata was cheating on A-chan, Nocchi and Kashiyuka by working with some young Lolita dressed bitch who can't even dance, I initially had no time and no love for anything Pamyu Pamyu put out. But when my robohoes Perfume started to fall off with the singles post JPN, I wondered if Nakata was falling off in general. Turned out he wasn't. He was just giving Pamyu Pamyu the good stuff. Good stuff which I grew to like and sparked my interest in the inevitable album.

I very much kept my desire for an album from a 20 year old girl who poses with puppets and wears sponge-balls in her hair a secret from many. But with the album out, the secret is out, as am I. Hello world. My name is J and I love me some Pussy Pamyu.

To dismiss Pussy Pamyu as a fad would be an easy thing to do. After all, at a glance she is just some hot mess looking girl putting out these childish sounding songs. She's often drawn comparisons to Lady Gaga, which seems like a fair comparison, until you dig a little deeper. Gaga's eccentricities seem overblown, over thought and try too hard to come off as couture and high fashion. This zaniness she expends visually however is never carried over to her music which let's face it, is pretty basic. Her songs all sound like sexual nursery rhymes. Pamyu Pamyu's visual zaniness on the other hand feels much more genuine, as it's an addendum of a fashion trend she grew up with. She isn't trying to be hip. She isn't even really trying to be liked. She genuinely wants people to look at her outfits and think "What the fuck!?" Unlike Lady Gaga, Pamyu Pamyu's music is a complete aural take on how she looks visually. It all connects. Gaga does not have this same symbiosis and this is where the comparisons end and Pamyu Pamyu pretty much smothers Lady Gaga with a larger more colourful wig than anything she's able to pull out of her Haus.

Pamyu Pamyu's music isn't for everybody and she and her team know this. But it doesn't make her music any less credible. And when Yasutaka Nakata is involved, you have to just acknowledge that credibility and incredibility will be a given. I really do not think there is any other producer who could have done this album but Nakata, because he gets Pamyu Pamyu. They share the same vision. There is an intrinsic level of understanding and trust between the two which is evident from the second you press play on the first track of this album. Nanda collection is a very self aware body of work. Fascinating, compelling and ingenious. Nothing about this album feels particularly safe. No two songs sound the same. Nakata's sounds of use range from bagpipes and acoustic guitars to chiptunage and a kazoo. Nothing is off limits here.

Album review: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu - Nanda collection | Random J Pop

Despite Pamyu's cute appearance there is a dark, sadistic streak to her and this runs through the music too. Every song tows a line between being sickly sweet and downright dirty. There is a constant underlying of unease on every song, as though the tempo or the vibe of the song could switch completely, which they often do. "Ninjya re bang bang" sounds like a GameBoy ninja anthem. "Invader Invader" starts off sounding like a surfer song cluster-fucked with a NES, before launching into a Dubstep breakdown which then flips into a piano solo. J-Pop twerk anthem "Mi" opens with an Edo period marching band and then morphs into a Euro house dance stomper. The kazoo and cowbell ridden "Noriko to norio" sounds like a children's television show theme with Dubstep-esque moments snuck in every now and then. The album is bonkers, but it all holds together in a state of controlled chaos.

Nakata's productions have always been amazing, but Nanda collection marks the first time where you feel he stepped outside of the box with a lot of the material and really set his sights on creating something conceptually unique. Going much further left field than he felt he was ever allowed to with Capsule or Perfume's material. Nothing on this album feels accidental or misplaced. Every song on this album has been crafted with a laser style level of precision. From the Celtic fanfare of the intro to the Capsule-esque club sound of the album closer "Otona no kodomo", which marks one of the albums only moments where a song falls into normality. Normality being this albums' biggest weakness. There are a handful of songs on this album which do feel a little too normal, particularly within the latter half of the album where Nanda collection begins to lose steam. When you've been taken on such phonic trips with the likes of "Invader Invader" and "Fashion monster", songs such as "Saigo no ice cream" and "Kura kura" feel lacking and basic in comparison and don't quite cut it.

The genius exhibited in some of the songs on this album aren't just a master class in how to create great J-Pop, but Pop records PERIOD. Nothing I've heard in Western Pop over the past 8 months comes close to the genius production and melodic infectiousness of "Invader Invader" or "Ninjya re bang bang".

When I first listened to Nanda collection I did not like it. My initial reaction was that perhaps Pamyu Pamyu should have just released an EP of the singles and not bothered to release an LP EVER IN HER LIFE. But as time went on, I found myself curiously listening to this album more and more. With each listen I began to understand what Pamyu Pamyu and Nakata had created here. When I took this album for what it was, everything clicked and I began to discover an appreciation for the songs. I still think this album is a hot mess. But it's a pretty damn good hot mess which is fully aware of just how hot a mess it is. Nanda collection is wholly consistent and ingeniously crafted soundtrack to Pamyu Pamyu's world.

VERDICT: Keep calm and Kyary on

Album highlights:
■ Ninjya re bang bang
■ Invader Invader ★ J's fave
■ Mi
■ Fashion monster
■ Otona no kodomo

A B-side this album should have included:
■ 100% no jibun ni

I ain't got no time for:
■ Kura kura


  1. The 10 seconds of static in Mi is not part of the actual song, it was a bad MP3 rip that was widely circulated. It's interesting to note that many listeners (including I) thought it was part of the song, as it fits with Nakata's "nothing is off limits" approach to this album.


    *edits review*

  3. Forreal? I find it incredibly ironic how much that actually fits into the song XD



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