review

Shiina Ringo – Heisei Fuzuko Review

Shiina Ringo never sits still. This her fifth album puts her firmly in a jazz/rock genre but then again doesn’t at the same time! “Heisei Fuzuko” (featuring a fantastic front cover) gives us some old songs reworked and a few new ones for good measure.

The album opens in grand style with “Gamble” which has so many instruments thrown together. Brass, strings and a full rock band all going together. It’s like an orchestrated stadium rock song and a fantastic song. This is followed up by “Stem” which is a smoky jazz club number sung in English sounding nothing like its original (which I prefer).

“Confusion (Terra Ver.)” then gives us a cabaret styled song. Fast, snazzy and at the kind of ambience that makes you want to shimmy sideways with your hands jiggling from side to side. Different but joyous. “”First Love” Singer” then mixes a beautiful string arrangement with ambient percussive noises for a surreal and oddly eerie song that I enjoy more with each listen.

Out comes the old 70’s dancers for “Papaya Mango” for people to mamba around to before the reworked “Consciously” works well but again doesn’t have the same feel or power of the original – more like a set finisher for Engelbert Humperdink Shiina style.

“Le Salle De Bain” is a remake (Yokushitsu) the works again not as well as the original (this version is much slower) before “Camouflage” again starts the sneak jazzed up madness again. “Poltergeists” is a beautiful waltz that works just as well as the original while “Temporary Virgin” has Shiina singing in english to a French styled playful string arrangement.

“Courtesan”  then shifts completely to an electronic song with bleeps, bumps, beats and echoing vocals. It’s a bit jarring but the orchestra joins in for a big finale.

“Scar” is an achingly beautiful and poignant piano led song which breaks out into a big climax in the second half with Shiina hauling every instrument possible back in. The album finishes on the playful “Memory” sounding like a cross between a children’s song and a closing track to a Disney film.

To say the shift from rock to jazz doesn’t influence my review would be lying. I struggle with jazz. The fact I can make it through a listen is a compliment. The reworked songs do not work for me and pale in comparison to the originals although its nice to have them all the same. The album has grown a bit on me over time but if you’re looking for rock out anthems like her previous works, do not look here.

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