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
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.
1. everything is nothing
2. somebody to love
4. you're so sweet
5. breakfast show
6. i can't go for that
9. beautiful mistake
12. i'm the one?
13. yesterday once more
in the webboard
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