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CD REVIEW

Perfume “Fan Service ~ Prima Box”

by Ian Martin

Formed in Hiroshima in 2001, moving to Tokyo in 2003 and hitting the big time in 2006, Perfume are an idol-pop phenomenon, notable for how their music combines elements of house and electro with a futuristic, Akihabara-friendly image.

“Fan Service ~ Prima Box” showcases a period of the group’s development when their music was becoming more sophisticated than the straight idol-pop of previous limited-release singles but wasn’t yet fully formed. The sound combines the lounge-pop influenced, post-Shibuya-kei sound of producer Yasutaka Nakata’s own band Capsule with a cute techno-pop style, although songs such as “Vitamin Drop” still sound twee in comparison to the Daft Punk-influenced electro-pop of later material, such as recent Oricon top-10 single “Baby Cruising Love.”

Their imagery had yet to develop into the slick techno-fetishism of 2006 hit “Electro World,” but they were starting to make coy, knowing references to otaku (obsessive fan) culture (“fan service” is a phrase popularized by 1990s anime fans, usually referring to various sorts of gratuitous titillation.) There’s also a treat for fans of Japanese techno-pop in the form of a perky cover version of “Jenny wa Gokigen Naname” by 1980s new-wave band Juicy Fruits. The song, which first appeared on the B-Side of “Sweet Donuts,” is by far the standout track of this collection. The final inclusion is a DVD featuring a couple of promo videos and some behind-the-scenes footage of the group.