Artist: The Pillows
Album: Kool Spice
Musicians: Sawao Yamanaka (vocals, guitar), Yoshiaki Manabe (guitar), Shinichiro Sato (drums), Tatsuya Kashima (bass)
Composer/Lyricist: Sawao Yamanaka
Release Date: 7 Jul 1994
|Penalty Life – The Pillows
1. Monochrome Lovers
*Bold titlesâ€“Recommended listening
The Pillowsâ€™ 1994 album, Kool Spice, is a smash hit to me. Few had heard of this gem because of the bandâ€™s limited audience. Yet to become a mainstream band, this underground talent had been transforming from a wildly cultured band of modest means to an ecstatic, electrified, and energized maelstrom of creativity and brilliance. Though White Incarnation was the bandâ€™s latest effort at widening their boundaries, Kool Spice showed that The Pillows could break any limit.
Songs such as “Naked Shuffle” and “Toy Dolls” proved that there were no creative boundaries to hold back Sawao, Manabe, or Shin-chan. Each song ranged with different sounds and one could not say that the album had a unifying theme. But, having a theme was beside the point: the album was an exhibition of a variety of sounds from elevator music to cool jazz to outright rock and roll.
Though the bandâ€™s original bassist, Kenji Ueda, was replaced by Tatsuya Kashima in 1992 around the release of White Incarnation, the band continued to strive on. I would not be shy to say that the presence of this new bassist may have played some influence in not only Kool Spice, but also all future albums up to Runnerâ€™s High.
In general, it is impossible to deny the brilliance of Kool Spice. Sawaoâ€™s singing had become tolerable, and the music in general had become extremely pleasing to the ears. This album is not spotless, but it is damn good.
Koi no Spai ni Ki wo Tsukeru
With a fast-tongue, Sawao mouths off the lyrics with great ease and great suave. The drums have no issue with it, and neither does the bass. Tatsuya and Shin-chan can keep up, hence building a strong, yet liquid smooth rhythm. This intensely catchy song will snatch you off into a sing-alongâ€”itâ€™s hard to resist the â€œzutto, zutto, zutto, ne!â€
Sha La La La
Previous albums attempted to pull off some jazz tracks and were successful. However, this one song epitomizes all past jazz-related efforts by the band. With a heart-thumping beat and superior instrumental support, the song is near flawless. And apparently Sawao can sing softly and soothingly! Such a style emphasizes the idea of this being a â€œcool jazzâ€ track. The guitar solo does not fail in maintaining an ambience that will excite yet relax. Even though one may not be able to follow the lyrics, the â€œsha la la laâ€ is simple enough. Whatever this song may mean is insignificant compared to the emotions it wants to instill into the listener through beat, sound, and style.
“Toy Dolls” is a presentation of masterful synchronicity and pacing. I find the whimsical rhythm irresistible; my body is synced to the ever-changing song. Nonetheless, the song has accomplished more than just timing. The vocals are genius in that Sawao sings in his full range, now-and-then setting off a crescendo from one note to the next for emotion impact. He plays the roles of both the alto and the soprano, his claim to being more than just an average singer, which previous albums have explicitly revealed. My favorite line in the song though is the â€œOh yeah!â€, which will cue in at the perfect, precise second. These simple â€œoh yeahâ€s are so incredibly well-timed that it takes the song to another level, giving “Toy Dolls” multiple facets in terms of vocals. This is a song that changes its rhythm constantly, yet can carry its listener from start to finish with, yet again, excellent instrumental performance and vocalizations that are â€œoff-the-chartsâ€ awesome. This very â€œwhimsicalâ€ quality, in terms of beat, vocals, and instrumentation, is the key reason why this song is a stroke of genius. I canâ€™t emphasize it anymore – listen to this.
The Pillows broke out here. There must have been some kind of snap, or a crackle, in the system of the bandâ€™s mentality. Peeling away from their conservative skin of the early 90â€™s, “Naked Shuffle” is a complete breakthrough. Itâ€™s loud. Itâ€™s heavy. Itâ€™s electric. There is more distortion in the guitar than in any other previous song, and the bass shakes the body like the sting of a cobra. Going completely wild, the band denounces their past and embraces a crazy future. The Pillows announced that their style was going to change, once again.
The Rating: 9
Reviewed by: Tamashii