Porno Graffitti “Rhinoceros” (SME)
Two songs into Porno Graffitti’s 10th album, “Rhinoceros,” and I can confirm that keeping up with the times isn’t the Hiroshima duo’s strong point. “Oh! Ribaru” melds Spanish-tinged accordion and Japanese lyrics together with a flurry of faux-EDM flourishes, including an Avicii-aspired passage. It’s one of the clunkiest bids at being “with it” you’ll hear in Japanese music all year.
The bulk of “Rhinoceros,” however, avoids contemporary sonic trends in favor of what Porno Graffitti has banked on since the late 1990s: easy-to-digest rock with radio-ready hooks. There are a few exceptions. If the feedback was let loose on “Stand Alone” or “Social Escape,” we could have got a little extra attitude. “Ohhh!!! Hanabi” is loaded up with horns and sounds like an AKB48 summer single. The just-over-a-minute-long “Hey Mama” fiddles around with bluegrass. Everything else exists in the same mid-tempo lane Porno Graffitti has cruised down since the millennium started.
“Rhinoceros” is so familiar and so plain that it manages to make missteps like “Oh! Ribaru” and the electronic-glazed “Angry Bird” stand out as the most memorable tracks on the album.
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