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Pizzicato Five
The Fifth Release From Matador

Don't ever try to understand this group, because I think that they may be off living in their own candy-coated universe somewhere. Not only are they called Pizzicato Five when they only have two members (much longer before Ben Folds Five was called so with only three members) and instead of really changing up their sound much at all, they've stuck to what they're best at now for every album (except perhaps on a bit of the weirder experimentation of their last album The International Playboy & Playgirl Record.).

I'm not being entirely fair, to be truthful. Over the course of the past decade, the group has gotten better at what they do. While most people probably expected them to go the one (or two) hit wonder route of Shonen Knife, Pizzicato Five have changed their sound just enough to keep fresh. Not only has Konishi Yasuharu gotten tons better at programming beats and coming up with uber-catchy music, but singer Nomiya Maki seems to have gradually gotten even more comfortable in singing tons of different styles, whether shes shouting out like a cheerleader, crooing along with a superfast bpm, or even going seducto on a slower track (not that there are too many).

Like always, the album dips in all kinds of styles over the course of 14 tracks, whether it's squirrelly jazz or lounge or rumbling drum and bass numbers with orchestral touches or even surf-rock guitars. They don't let things linger at all from the start, either. The album kicks right out of the gates with "A Perfect World." After a bit of a rolicking piano roll that sounds like Schroeder jamming from the Peanuts gang, the song busts into a wicked sort of drum and bass sound with little touches of strings, pops of piano and lyrics in Japanese (natch) by Maki. Somehow they manage to harness tons of different cheesy elements and somehow put them together in a way that sounds pretty darn hip. It's fast paced and the music is always changing and just when you felt like a little break was needed, the second track "Roma" just keeps things pumping with more sped up pianos, a crazy fast beat and a drum roll that always feels like it's building to something more. The instrumental (with a couple samples) sounds like it could have come out of some sort of crazy cartoon sequence, but if that were the case I'd probably be watching more cartoons.

They finally do slow things down a bit on the strangely titled "Loudland!" which sounds like the cross betweeen a trip-hop track and a skipping orchestral blast. The group doesn't let up there, though. "A Room With A View" again kicks things into upbeat mode with some crazy harpsichord action (yup) layed down over more speedy beats and horn bursts while "Tout, Tout Pour Ma Cherie" sounds like happy rave music gone horribly (and at the same time quite nicely) wrong. It's hijacked hi-NRG that sounds like it could be the theme music for some happy anime. While there are a couple tracks that get a little off-course during the later third of the album, this is by far the most solid album for the group in a long while. They try several different styles without messing with what they do well in the first place and the music is super solid and Maki seems to have found a whole new range. It's nothing deep, but damn if they don't do fun as good as anyone out there.

Rating: 7.25