Nobody came out of 2020 feeling particularly cheery, even the most upbeat of Japan's pop acts. For Anna Takeuchi, however, all that pandemic-era uncertainty soon turned into artistic clarity.

She resolved to make her guitar-based pop "more" — more upbeat, more optimistic, more aggressively cheerful. The result is "Tickets," Takeuchi's second full-length album, which was released via Teichiku Music last month. It's a set of 13 deliriously delightful tunes that find the young creator dabbling in gospel vocals, skittering beats and synth melodies. Plenty of J-pop artists make happy music, but few elevate their craft into a full-blown production like Takeuchi does across this collection.

“I’m a positive and generally optimistic person," the 23-year-old tells The Japan Times. "Even if I write a sad song, I want to make sure at the end there is a bit of hope.”