By Paris365 on January 02, 2013

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Cutting Edge

Historically, lecca has been considered a reggae artist and always seemed happy as such. But her last album, Step One, found her trying new things, particularly dance, pop and R&B. She still did a few reggae songs, yes, but the album's title clearly indicated that this was her first step in a new direction, or the first step in widening her horizons. So it should come as no surprise that her new album, ZOOLANDER, only has a couple of songs with even a hint of reggae. Mostly, it's comprised of club-ready dance anthems.

The album begins with an intro track called "Landing On The Zoo," which would seem to imply that she means the album's title, ZOOLANDER, literally, as opposed to paying homage to the hilarious movie of the same name. It starts off sounding like a thunderstorm then we hear an aircraft landing before some tribal beats begin and she starts singing "oh oh oh" and other things repeatedly. She finally delivers some real lyrics just before the beats continue into "Golden Lion," the first proper song on the album. I could be mistaken, but it sounds like "Golden Lion" samples Serge Gainsbourg's "Bonnie & Clyde," which Kylie Minogue sampled in her song "Sensitized" from her album X. But that's just one element of "Golden Lion," the tribal beats and loud piano comprising most of the booming music, which reminds me of many a tribal remix circa 2000. It might take a few listens to grow on you, but it ultimately proves to be a worthwhile investment. I wouldn't play this song very loudly though, as my computer shut off one of my speakers to prevent it from being blown when I was listening to this song loudly while writing notes for my review. To that end, the following song, "Sunshine," is a real banger with ridiculously bold beats that are sure to give your subwoofer a real workout. It would probably be a good song for you to work out to as well, being that it's bursting with energy and certainly demands to at least be danced to. While the beats make the song, lecca's vocals sound wonderful here whether she's singing confidently or delivering an upbeat hip-hop verse. "You are my sunshine," she sings as the song nears its end, her voice sounding as honeyed as it sounds strong if not powerful.

Another standout track is "キラキラ" (Google: "Glitter"), which starts off sounding like funeral music for a few seconds before glimmering synth and rapid dance beats commence. The song is full of boundless energy and lecca sounds especially radiant here. If she released an English version of this song in the States then I imagine it would be a huge hit, since it basically splits the difference between club kings David Guetta and Deadmau5. "TODAY" also demands to be played in worldwide clubs. "Today," she sings enthusiastically a few times before the beats drop and she starts singing the first verse. Here, the beats sound like a mix of live, clattering drums with a bit of a marching band sound along with an unyielding, resonant club beat. It reminds me of club mixes of Shakira and Kelly Clarkson songs, though it's arguably more clamorous. The oddly-titled "Clown Love" is just as forceful. It might start off with music box-like piano and fluffy synth, but just after lecca begins singing, BANG, the song's massive beat kicks your teeth in. I can't tell if it's a well-mic'ed bass drum or a programmed beat, but it's downright ferocious regardless. Another one that could likely blow your speakers. As a side note, I was glad this song was entirely in Japanese so I couldn't understand it because I hate clowns. When I was a kid they made me cry. As an adult, well, let's just say they scare me.

After a while, some of the songs on ZOOLANDER feel slightly monotonous. "シナリオ" (Google: "Scenario") and "ゴメンネ! " (Google: "Sorry!") in particular didn't make much of an impression on me. "シナリオ" has some guitar and a triumphant vibe, but ultimately sounds like a cheesy song written for the Olympics or something. And " "ゴメンネ! " is nothing we haven't already heard on the album with its glimmering synth and overpowering beat.

ZOOLANDER does eventually take a couple of moments to do something other than beg you to dance. "Parakeets" mixes a traditional Asian string arrangement with a slick, modern R&B beat. There's also a hint of reggae here for the first time on the album. I have no idea if it's literally about "Parakeets," but it's certainly as colorful as parakeets are. Finally, we have "旅立ちの刻" (Google: "Time Of Departure") which mixes tropical-flavored acoustic guitars with reggae beats and an R&B groove. Although I wouldn't exactly call it a slow song, it's certainly the closest the album comes to having a ballad and I'm sure it's intended to be one. To that end, it's nice to be able to come down from the loudness and simply enjoy lecca's wonderful voice. -Michael McCarthy

Labels and artists interested in being featured here may contact Michael McCarthy at cinema365@gmail.com. Follow Michael on Twitter https://twitter.com/paris365.

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