Whatever else you might say about idol trio Perfume’s new album, “JPN” is a title fraught with possible meanings. Is it a postquake rallying cry? A doomed attempt to reach out to overseas audiences following the use of “Polyrhythm” in Pixar’s pointless “Cars 2” flick? A kick aimed at the waves of Korean idol groups who have recently stolen Perfume’s electropop crown?
Taken in context with producer/songwriter Yasutaka Nakata’s other work in 2011, “JPN” is without doubt unwittingly symbolic of the malaise afflicting mainstream Japanese pop. Where Nakata’s own band capsule’s “World of Fantasy” was a frequently ridiculous but undeniably energetic riot of hedonistic dance beats, and his work with Harajuku style-icon Kyary Pamyu Pamyu was a paint splatter of bubblegum-pop absurdity, Perfume, with no subcultural niche from which to draw energy, are left to flounder in no-man’s land, little more than a dumping ground for used advertising jingles.