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Kaela Kimura “8Eight8″

by Daniel Robson

Staff Writer

Spiders are excellent. How many legs have you got? A spider has four times more. Ha! And four times more eyes too! You and I will never be as cool as a spider — that’s just the way it goes.

Kaela Kimura is, though — oh, she’s super-cool. On the title track here, the half-British J-pop star sings, “Eight eyes, eight legs / Hunting every midnight / I eat up imagined monsters inside you”; while on “Deep Beep” she belts out, “I never wanna die / My mind is infallible” — and with that, she topped the Oricon chart last month.

Unlike her contemporaries, Kimura won’t invite you to make a virtual baby with her, doesn’t expose any skin and eschews sappy songs about how innocent she is. She wrote or cowrote all the lyrics on “8Eight8,” and she even takes the “total produce” credit; that is, she personally was involved in deciding the shape her album would take overall, a job too often entrusted to an A&R suit and not an artist.

The result is a cohesive album, helped this time by the fact that the music for every song was written by one person (Shinobu Watanabe of the band Asparagus), as opposed to the committee approach typically favored in J-pop. So from the punkish bluster of opening track “Make My Day!” through to the almost bossa-nova melancholy acoustica of lead-out “Chocolate,” “8Eight8″ exudes a warmth and consistency that justifies its status as a No. 1 album.

But there’s a fly in the ointment (or stuck to the web): Some of these tracks have been used for high-profile ad campaigns over the last year or so — and the stench of capitalism is indelible. So listening to the contagious “Ring A Ding Dong,” you can’t help but think of a certain mobile-phone brand. You know how inviting a vampire into your home renders you powerless to defeat it? Same thing goes for a CD full of jingles.

Credibility is a rare commodity in modern J-pop, but Kimura holds onto hers — just — by keeping her music tight. Just don’t try counting her legs, though.