Tokyo Jihen “Variety”


Pop music’s not just for kids, you know. And while there’s plenty of it about for grownups, few artists offer such consistent and thrilling fare as Tokyo Jihen. On this, their third album since forming in 2003, the band offer 13 tracks dripping in jazzy cool, fronted by the shredded, throaty voice of Shiina Ringo.

As the title suggests, “Variety” offers a diverse set. It opens with the clipped, distorted drums, humming bass and delicate organ of “Ramp.” Then comes the raunch of “Mirrorball,” and any fears that the band may have gone sappy are allayed.

Lead single “OSCA” takes in funk and jazz in equal parts, but at its heart is a pop song, written by guitarist Ukigomo, proving that the band is more than an extension of Ringo’s solo career. The boys even sing on the sassy, sexy “Botomin,” with lyrics that reference “Kabuki” from their previous album “Adult.” Then there are the circus theatrics of “Kuronekodo” and the doom-rock of “Fukushu,” on which — not for the first time — Ringo proves that she can sing flawlessly in English.

The album is awash with subtle but timeless hooks that, after a few listens, work their way into your brain and stay there. Seeping melody, mystery and magic, “Variety” is perfect for pop kids of all ages.