Released today, Ami Suzuki’s Dolce is a serious attempt by a fallen Japanese pop idol to be taken seriously one more time. Suzuki isn’t exactly a major success story. Initially pegged to be Ayumi Hamasaki’s musicial competitor and rival back in the ’98/’99 era, Ami fell from grace in the ’00’s after legal troubles with her management and almost immediately faded into obscurity. In 2005, she began working on a comeback with Avex mastermind, Max Matsuura, entering into a decidedly dance-oriented new style. After two albums, this is Ami’s third release, and the only one I’ve actually given the time of day. After hearing that capsule’s Nakata Yasutaka had a hand in the project, I figured there had to be some redeeming quality within the music.
This is no standard J-Pop record. This is pico-pop; electronica at its noisest and most disconcerting. If you’re not one for digitally altered vocals or repetitive synth-patterns, then Ami’s new album’s not the right choice for you. Screeching beeps and glicks plague the album, with the possibility of offending more ears than it pleasures. But for me, it’s a pure winner. The album strays far from structurally familiar pop. It is often repetitive, but not in a traditional manner. “FREE FREE,” the lead-off track, is pure mechanical bliss, like a mushroom trip through a welding factory. Other songs incorporate modern “R&Btronica” vibes into the forefront, such as “Stereo Love.” The only song that stages a return to familiar territory is the cover of Disney stars Aly & AJ’s “Potential Breakup Song,” the spacey, half-hearted blow off song. According to the highest thinkers of pop (myself included), the original version has been certified as a rather formidable record with several layers of brilliance built within the chorus(es). See below for album clips, or for a short time, download the entire album, complete with booklet scans and covers!
It’s interesting to watch an established artist dive into an unknown territory. Now if only some other artists would take a hint and try this out. Reading this, Ayu? If you are…how come you don’t call me no ‘mo?
DL: Ami Suzuki – FREE FREE
DL: Ami Suzuki – Sweet Dance
DL: Ami Suzuki – Potential Breakup Song
DL: Ami Suzuki – DOLCE (Album)