Reviewed close to a full month late, you can find Aibu’s take on Eiko Shimamiya’s second Geneon full-length below the cut.
Eiko Shimamiya (島みやえい子) – ひかりなでしこ (Hikarinadeshiko) (2008, Geneon)
3. all alone
5. 観覧車 (Kanransha)
7. 奈落の花 (Naraku no Hana)
8. 青い果実 (Aoi Kajitsu)
10. あすなろの木 (Asunaro no Ki)
11. 十四の月 (Garasu no Tsuki)
12. ハルミチル (Haru Michiru)
13. 愛のうた (Ai no Uta)
Eiko Shimamiya’s latest album Hikarinadeshiko has the dubious distinction of having what has to be the most controversial tracklisting in I’ve history: 6 of the album’s 13 tracks were composed and arranged by producers outside of I’ve, and of the I’ve songs, only 3 are truly exclusive to the album in any way: last year’s standout single Naraku no Hana as well as its rancid, debatably I’ve B-side FLOW are both present, as is the largely forgettable Higurashi no Naku Koro ni B-side ‘all alone’ and 2 selections from Eiko’s now-ancient Comiket-exclusive EP Ozone (Garasu no Tsuki and Ai no Uta, the latter providing C.G mix’s sole contribution to the sad mess of an album).
But, really, original release or not, Hikarinadeshiko sucks. I don’t want to mince words for fear of giving this album more time than it’s worth, hence the abruptness in simply declaring suckiness right off the bat. But, one might wonder, what precisely makes this album suck so god-damned bad?
Well, first off, there’s the simple fact that it’s an Eiko Shimamiya album first and an I’ve album maybe seven-hundredth. Not meaning to knock Shimamiya, she’s a talented singer and competent lyricist far as I can tell from song translations, and her singles with Tomoyuki Nakazawa made me squeal like a schoolgirl… But this does not, in any way, mean that she is qualified to dictate the predominant direction of an album. Her previous album, O, succeeded because control was handed over to I’ve’s immensely talented arrangers (OK, and SORMA No.1) and the songs were able to run free as the kind of atmospheric long-form compositions Eiko’s eerie voice lends itself so well to instead of being locked into the blandness of verse-chorus-verse.
Then, after seeing that she had made a brilliant album by doing one thing, Eiko decided to go “fuck this shit” and made herself the star of its follow-up. Hikarinadeshiko is every bit a product of Shimamiya’s tedious singer/songwriter indulgences, a desert of indistinct ballads where the extraneous background music ranges from utterly hideous at worst (Maiko Iuchi’s loungecore nightmare Haru Michiru, for one) to blandly inoffensive at best (Aoi Kajitsu is halfway decent despite its non-I’ve production: in my business, that’s what we call a fluke), barren landscape pockmarked by a few glistening oases (Naraku no Hana, mostly, but scheherazade is sort of funky) but you’d need a superhuman resistance to awfulness to not just give up long before you reach one of those shiny little ponds. It took this reviewer some 4 tries to get through this waste of perfectly good almost-pure polycarbonate plastic, and I only bothered trying for my blog’s sake: I see no reason why anyone would voluntarily put themselves through that experience without a good fucking reason.
Second, it lacks flow or continuity on the basest of levels. The new tracks and the previously-released ones go together like peanut butter and trout, except the trout (new shit) is horrible and infected with all sorts of diseases while the peanut butter (Naraku no Hana) is so delicious it makes you wish more than anything that there were more of it to cover up the taste of that vile, decaying old fish with. But even if there were more peanut butter, the songs still don’t mesh – they’re artlessly stuck one after another seemingly without a single thought given to the order and flow, with hideous mistakes such as putting the epic album-closer Naraku no Hana stuck smack dab in the middle, including Kanransha on the album, and making the first real song on the album a seemingly endless ballad that inspires nothing more than the desire to not listen to the rest all very much present.
But the final flaw is, as I’ve spent so much time saying already, the songs aren’t good, and if they are you’ve heard them elsewhere. Aside from scheherazade, maybe, but one song does not in any way justify the import pricing an album like Hikarinadeshiko commands. If you want Eiko Shimamiya, she has a number of other quality releases to choose from, none of which include Haru Michiru. If you want to hear a full album of I’ve at their best, Mami Kawada’s SAVIA is all that and a bag of chips. Unless you really, really want to waste your money (or hard drive space, for all the pirates out there) on an album that could suck a proverbial golf ball out of an equally proverbial garden hose, I just can’t find any way to recommend Hikarinadeshiko.
However, after all that, there’s one thing I still have to give the album credit for: while all insanity on this blog had previously been the sole domain of founder/reviewer Aibu (aka me), it seems that after Kanransha’s relentless badness, newshound/main-poster-until-I-get-my-act-together Hikaruhoshi has finally found his chance to snap. Hooray for Hikarinadeshiko, eh?