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Fidela Records

Lord knows, I'm not an aficionado of pop music. And thankfully so. But I can reluctantly lay claim to having heard enough of it to understand its basic machinations. Fortunately, pop isn't all about Justin and Britney, or who Madonna's taking nekkid pictures of herself with these days, or even how many perforated 12-year-old rectums are nailed above Jacko's headboard.

Pop music used to be fairly simple, feel-good stuff that smacked like bubblegum and had the consistency and ephemerally of cotton candy, and it was written and performed by actual musicians that typically looked like they came from a school of music and not a modeling agency. Anymore, it's a dossier of who can out-slut who, or how many black guys who CAN sing do you have to stick around some scrawny, baby-faced, suburban white boy who can't sing or dance before he mysteriously acquires "talent" or at least some form of faux street credibility and where that fails, perhaps an air of mock attitude. Contained within this fearsome engine are a slurry of studio session musicians, some with actual talent, who've had to whore themselves out to the machine so that they can eat.

Enter Stage Left: Cribabi

Cribabi consists of Andy Cox (The Beat, Fine Young Cannibals) and Yukari Fujiu (The Groopies), two session musicians who've tasted a bit of success, but never really hit the big time. The most fortunate aspect of this pairing is that neither of these pop musicians came from the US, because well... if I have to explain that, then you've wandered here by mistake. The story of how this album was made is truly the stuff of folklore: Yukari buys a learn-to-speak-English tape with a monologue performed by Andy. A while later, she coincidentally meets him in London while she was working in the same building that his Lo Fi recording studio is housed in. (she insists she wasn't stalking him) They start talking, then they throw some ideas around, do a little recording, and subsequently decide to embark on an album project. Yukari returns to Tokyo, Andy stays in London, and the album is recorded in pieces half a world apart with the tracks traded via email, for a cost of roughly £300.

The ensuing album that grew out of this effort is a mishmash of varying musical styles that dips into the wellsprings of artists like Bjork ("everything is nothing"), Madonna, Portishead ("you're so sweet"), and a whole slew of others, and tops it off with a cover of the Carpenters' "yesterday once more."

Most of this album sounds like a regurgitation of some of the cornerstones of the last 30 years of pop music, and it (fortunately) largely embraces the good and not the bad. Cribabi have shown that they understand the right way to write a pop song, but the music they have offered up still sounds just a little too derived in its synthesis. It is, nevertheless, quite entertaining and has more than a few catchy tunes, but I would like to have heard something that really identified itself as being entirely of their own doing. I know that they are capable of this, and as such I would recommend this album to anyone with an appreciation for good pop music; the way it used to be. I'm not sure I would be so forgiving of a second effort that didn't give greater definition to the band as a self-contained and singularly creative entity. There is a difference between letting other bands influence your own sound, and simply trying to sound like other bands. Cribabi is capable of great things, and I think that it would really be a shame if this little project failed to progress beyond their first offering, or simply dried up and did nothing more at all.


Track Listing:

1. everything is nothing
2. somebody to love
3. map
4. you're so sweet
5. breakfast show
6. i can't go for that
7. cry
8. disappear
9. beautiful mistake
10. eternal
11. gloria
12. i'm the one?
13. yesterday once more



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