Long a pioneer of rosy cheeks everywhere, I was somewhat saddened to read the latest Pizzicato Five press releases saying that their newest disc was a lot more moody than anything they had ever done. Somehow, I couldn't quite picture the group who I'd never heard utter a minor chord moping.
After listening to the The International Playboy & Playgirl Record, though, I can say that they really haven't changed that much. Although a couple tracks sound somewhat darker than expected, things always manage to pick up at some point or another, and the disc never wallows for more than a couple minutes.
Things start out in familiar territory with some a capella singing on "La Depression" before a bit of signature drumming bursts in with a flourish of strings and shakers. The somewhat dark side of the group actually kicks in right away with the second track entitled "Rolls Royce." The 8-minute track rolls along for awhile with some backing strings and a simple bass line before breaking into a crazy breakbeat number with pianos laid over the top before collapsing back again into it's simply beginning. The above-mentioned strings then carry on for well over the last minute of the track while a man speaks some words of Japanese intermittently. Continuing this trend into the next track, things start with a flourish, but soon drift off into found street sounds and a bit of piano tinkling with the same sort of spoken word reading over it all.
Things get back to normal again on "A New Song," with burst of horns and a movin' beat. Nomiya Maki again takes lead vocals and it feels like their Happy End Of The World all over again (in a good way, of course). Coming in with the best use of a harpsichord that I've heard in a long time is the seventh track entitled "Concerto." It's a cheesy little light number with light beats that even includes a flute and french horn. I can't understand a word they're saying, but damn it if it doesn't make me smile.
And so the album really isn't that moody afterall. It's still the same lounge/breatbeat/groove/pop stuff you've come to expect from the group and although there are a couple tracks at the beginning of the disc that go off the beaten track, it swings right back into things for the rest of the way out. Again, it will probably help things to learn Japanese if you want to sing along at all, but the language barrier won't keep you from a bit of booty shaking. Even with the moody introspection, it's still quite a bit of bubbly music for one sitting, but it might put a snap in your next cocktail party.