Dreams Come True “Attack25” (Universal Music)
This year marks the 25th anniversary of popular J-pop outfit Dreams Come True’s formation, and to celebrate the occasion Universal Music has released “Attack25,” its 17th original album to date.
It’s not a best-of collection as such, the duo has already put out six of those, but the 16-song set touches on all of its better sonic attributes. “Attack25,” like the act itself in 2014, doesn’t push Japanese music in any new direction, and instead offers up an easy-breezy bit of nostalgia that’s a mostly pleasant listen.
Save for an ill-advised push into the American market in the late 1990s, Dreams Come True has always swirled rock, jazz and R&B together into an easily digestible mix. “Attack25” gets listeners right into the mix with first proper song “One Last Dance, Still in a Trance,” a horn-guided shuffler that highlights singer Miwa Yoshida’s vocal range. It also highlights the unit’s specialty — the best moments on this album are the ones influenced by the ritzy sounds of 1980s city pop. “Kono Gai de” (“On This Street”) sweetens its marching pace with subtle horn blasts, while “Kiseki to Kiseki” (“Trajectory and Miracle”) indulges in drum fills and trumpet to present the album’s liveliest cut.
The rest of “Attack25” leans mostly toward mid-tempo pop — decent-enough music to hear on a radio station while driving to work, but nothing worth seeking out. The duo even works in some callbacks to its older material, highlighted by “Anata ni Salad Igai mo” (“To You, Anything but the Salad”) a rambling continuation of 1991 song “Anata ni Salad” (“To You, the Salad”) “Attack25” is at its worst when dipping its toes in faux reggae (on “Monkey Girl”), but that’s the only time Dreams Come True’s latest verges into nightmare territory. For the most part, “Attack25” celebrates a long-running group by letting it do what has kept it in the limelight. (Patrick St. Michel)