Chaos breeds a lot of surprises but the biggest shock coming out of genre-blending artist Zombie-Chang’s latest album, “Gang!”, is the flashes where she sounds like someone capable of being a mainstream pop performer.
The wonky details that captured many listeners’ attention on last year’s “Zombie-Change” — rap delivered over new wave-derived beats, moments of subtle vocal manipulation — remain. Now, however, they are joined by songs where Meirin Yung’s singing comes across clearly, highlighting a new side to the project.
The bulk of “Gang!” still exists in the frantic, homemade zone that helped her get greater attention.
Opening number “I Can’t Get to Sleep” sprints forward, with Yung delivering mid-tempo vocals over a skittery dance beat, her voice speeding up at various points to disorienting effect.
Owing to a larger release, she sounds clearer than ever before, but still revels in mutating her singing into a channel-skipping force (“Tokidoki”) or multi-tracking it (“Kabenomukou”).
This is all expected from Zombie-Chang and genre-blurring tracks alone would have made for a solid album.
Yet it’s the moments where Yung approaches J-pop that end up standing out on “Gang!”
The beats and music she conjures up still sound straight from the bedroom but, as can be heard on the slowly unfolding “Kourakuen” or her twinkling cover of Japanese standard “Kawaii Baby” (originally produced by French singer Connie Francis), they sound closer to J-pop than the underground.
It’s an intriguing dimension for Zombie-Chang, albeit one that probably wouldn’t hold up a whole album.
However, that isn’t “Gang!” Instead, the album’s a whirlwind set revealing unexpected new sides of an artist that’s well worth watching.