Oh, not again. Almost exactly three years ago I was handed a preview copy of “Hi-Fi Anatomia” by Soutaiseiriron. At first I hated the album’s anime-friendly helium vocals and pretentious air, but after a few spins, the super-minimal jazzy-poppy tunes, as fragile as glass, drilled their way into my brain. It’s now one of my all-time favorite albums.
Passepied’s sound shares a similar vibe: minimal melancholy pop tunes with jazz undertones and high-pitched vocals. On first spin, I also hated “Watashi Kaika Shita Wa.” About 500 plays later, I’m obsessed.
First, there’s Natsuki Ogoda’s voice. The first time I heard opening song “Kaika Zensen,” I thought it was a Miku Hatsune-style synthetic vocal, so impossibly high-pitched and with a curious lilt. But on downbeat disco smash “Papillon,” or the massive chorus of “Mayonaka no Rendezvous,” she suddenly sounds like J-pop megastar Yuki, all bursting lungs and perfect pitch.
Also, it features these borderline-cheesy but incredibly intricate synth lines (courtesy of band leader Haneda Narita, who presumably gets discounted airline tickets), with an eerie “Ghost Town”-esque tone on syncopated groover “Aki no Hi” giving way to what sounds like a keyboard refrain from a “Final Fantasy” video game.
On paper it sounds awful. But “Watashi Kaika Shita Wa” is filled to bursting with organic warmth and human character, and that, coupled with several proper earworm choruses, is where its magic lies. I’ve gone and bloody well fallen for it. Give it a few spins and you might, too.