When teen stars grow up, their careers always face a difficult journey into adulthood (just ask Macaulay Culkin). So, with playground hip-hop unit Halcali now well into their 20s, “Tokyo Groove” presents us with one disc featuring original songs and another of covers and collaborations, in the hope of reinventing the duo.
Halcali are at the stage in their career where most J-pop stars would have long ago settled into identikit, string-laden balladry or discovered there’s always been an easy-listening jazz influence to their sound. The fact this unusual mishmash of an album resists that trend is creditable, but in place of that is little more than an undignified scrabble for an identifiable sound. Somewhere along the line, someone has noticed that Yasutaka Nakata is fashionable, so there are a few fumbling attempts to deal with the complexities of autotune, but it fails to add anything to the songs, and misses the point of Halcali’s charm in the first place.