Review : The Japanese Popstars - Controlling Your Allegiance
PopmattersIreland has done its share of presenting the world with energetic bands bent on bending a rule or two and this Northern Ireland troupe is certainly no exception. Controlling Your Allegiance, the Japanese Popstars’ second full-length and first since 2008’s We Just Are, is not so much an album that hangs together in the traditional sense as it is a series of songs that are designed to provide listeners with an hour of dance floor bliss. While it’s more like 40 or 45 minutes of unadulterated freedom, still, as the ancient Sumerian proverb goes, coming close is better than not coming at all.
Blending elements of eight-bit music with more traditional dance music sounds, the group’s greatest moments arrive early in the album, via the opening stomper “Let Go”, one of the many pieces here made all the more charming by its simplicity and its unabashed stupidity. The spectre of master electronic purveyors Kraftwerk looms large here via that song (which features Green Velvet), as well as the beautifully pastoral “Take Forever” (it’s a kind of Autobahn for the new century with lyrics, bass, and vocals from the Cure’s Robert Smith), “Our Building Block”, and even the hallucinatory “Destroy”. (The latter, incidentally, features some of the most amazing rhythm work of the whole collection.)
Lisa Hannigan contributes the largely forgettable and ultimately regrettable “Song for Lisa” (generic is putting it mildly). Meanwhile, Jon Spencer shows up for the aforementioned “Destroy”, and Dublin-based folker James Vincent McMorrow peeks in for “Shells of Silver”. This writer wouldn’t be the first to note that the collection would be more solid without this feast of friends as it tends to make the group’s vision a little more diffuse, softening the impact of the ace collaborations between the trio and Green Velvet, Smith, and Spencer....full text
HarderbloggerfasterThe Japanese Popstars have been a hyped electronic act for many years, with numerous Irish Dance awards to their name you’d be forgiven for thinking that they’d had numerous albums under their belt. But surprising their new album is ‘Controlling Your Allegiance’ is their second album, and the first have the marketing power of a major behind them. The album from the first beat is billed as encompassing selection of tracks that exudes electricity as well much needed moments of nostalgia and emotion.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with them they’re a trio from Derry, Northern Ireland, who have been compared to the juggernauts of EDM like The Chemical Brothers and Orbital in both sound and their highly praised live shows.
Rather than being clever or introvert the trio’s new album goes for the jugular from the off. But as the CD develops it begins to paint a picture of a complex set references that includes everything from stadium electro, breaks, house, disco and trance – it’s throw-back to the good ‘ol days of big sounds and big drops; a full-throttle nostalgic trip back to day’s gone by – but it manages, on the whole, to sound very fresh and very now....full text
NmeNorthern Irish dance act The Japanese Popstars have just signed to Virgin and had a whole bunch of guests thrown at them. This second album contains forgettable turns from Morgan Kibby of M83 and Lisa Hannigan, who perform over functional mid-tempo house with large, under-discerning rooms in mind.
There are wasted opportunities with both Robert Smith of The Cure and Jon Spencer of Blues Explosion fame, plus a whine-fest from Mrs Tom Bowman from Editors. The Green Velvet collaboration is admittedly top notch, but the guest budget would have been better spent on giving the band time to come up with good ideas in the first place....full text
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