Album review: Capsule - CAPS LOCK

Album review: Capsule - CAPS LOCK | Random J Pop

CAPS LOCK marks a departure for Capsule. Instead of insisting that you dance and get a little colourful and crazy to the music, Nakata has placed a stronger influence on setting moods and tones. CAPS LOCK is not a pop album, nor a dance album. It sits in a completely different category to Capsule's previous albums. It's much more ambient. Easy listening. Feeling more like a soundtrack. It's a complete shift from what Capsule had done before, but if there were ever a time when Nakata could get away with it, it's probably now.

CAPS LOCK released at a time when Perfume 4th studio album LEVEL3 and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's Nanda collection were both out. Two albums which Nakata had produced in their entirety. Both very different in their sounds, but unified through both albums being produced by the same man with occasional influence bleeding between the two albums. This gave Nakata the perfect chance to try something different. There is a high probability that Capsule fans listen to Pamyu Pamyu and Perfume anyway. With both of them having albums out and then CAPS LOCK releasing around the same time, this gives Nakata fans 3 albums to go between. If CAPS LOCK is a little too left field for you, then you have Nanda collection which features a Capsule cover on it and is a little reminiscent of their earlier albums Cutie Cinema Replay and L.D.K. Lounge Designers Killer. But for those who liked Player or World of fantasy, Perfume's LEVEL3 has splashings of club stompers in the forms of "Spring of life" and "Party maker" - both of which feature sections which sound like Capsule tracks were dropped right in the middle of them. It was a smart move, but also a dangerous one, because Nakata is essentially creating all of these albums within a bubble which is causing the lines to blur between them. More so now than before, and it's becoming harder to distinguish each acts music, especially if you strip the vocals away.

World of fantasy and Stereo worxxx were forgettable albums, with songs, themes and even album arts which were interchangeable. CAPS LOCK is a nice surprise in Capsule's discography which alludes to their earlier works when Nakata was a little more experimental and the albums were conceptual and thematic. But that sense of energy, fun and old mixed with new which Capsule's earlier albums featured barely makes an appearance here. It's in there in songs such as "CONTROL" and "SHIFT", but for the most part this is quite a dark and brooding album. Possibly the funnelling which comes as a result of having to produce such upbeat majestic songs for Pamyu Pamyu and keeping a sense of neutrality for Perfume's material.

Each song merges into the next in a fashion that it's easy to lose track of which song is which, but it creates a seamless listening experience as was intended. Despite the theme of the album and the disconnect which could have occurred as a result of it, there is heart and warmth in this album, things I felt were completely missing from World of fantasy and Stereo worxxx. I get the feeling between all of Nakata's output lately that perhaps he isn't feeling as inspired as he was earlier in his career or maybe he's finding it difficult to cope with the pressure of producing for two acts whom are now on the cusp of global recognition. CAPS LOCK feels like an album from somebody who had something to get out of their system, but I question whether this needed to be a main entry into Capsule's discography when it may have worked better as an EP or perhaps even a release under a different moniker, given that Toshiko barely features on this album at all.

CAPS LOCK is a consistent and focuses album, but there is still a sense of wandering within the music, as though Nakata isn't really sure where to go next or what to do. Whilst it doesn't always make for a compelling listen, it does make for an interesting one.

RATING: 5 / 10

Album highlights:
■ SHIFT ★ J's fave


  1. Thank you for finally reviewing this album!

  2. "I question whether this needed to be a main entry into Capsule's discography when it may have worked better as an EP or perhaps even a release under a different moniker."

    Yep, that's it. Great review as always!

  3. You nailed it.

    Nice diversion, but not making it into the rotation.

  4. Great review (and always great writing). I really loved CONTROL and SPACE. But yeah, not my favourite. Still, better to dare than to do vanilla work.

  5. Boooo had to delete from my computer


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