Tomoko Kawase is a woman of many identities. After shooting to fame in the 1990s as singer for J-popsters The Brilliant Green, she went on to make two albums of ’80s-style pop pastiches as Tommy February6. Now she has completed her second album as that incarnation’s “dark side,” Tommy Heavenly6.
Quite how dark she really is, however, is debatable, with the constantly recurring candy-themed lyrical motifs and song titles like “I Love Xmas.” While Tommy February6 played ostensibly straightforward pop music, that image was made more interesting by the darker side already lurking under the surface: she was cute, but she was also selfish, lazy and spiteful, as evidenced by the exploding cheerleaders in her promotional video. With Tommy Heavenly6, the dark side rises to the surface, thus losing its subversive appeal.
What remains is a series of professionally produced pop-rock confections in an Avril Lavigne/Blink 182 style, all coated in a wafer-thin glaze of goth and soft metal. The opening three tracks, including former singles “Heavy Starry Chain” and “I’m Gonna SCREAM+,” do a respectable job of balancing Kawase’s pop sensibility with her alternative pretensions, but the ideas quickly run out. If you’re still listening by the time it limps to its unmemorable finale of “Lucky Me,” you’ll be considering yourself anything but lucky.
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