If I were facetious enough, I could reprint a review of Yaida Hitomi’s previous album, I/Flancy, in this space.
I/Flancy shows Yaida has clearly chosen to maintain chart success at the expense of her creative growth. She deviates not one bit from the template that’s brought her fame. She’s working with the same producers, she’s playing with the same band.
Why reinvent the wheel when the facts are just the same?
But where I/Flancy still provided some interesting tunes, there’s not much engaging about Air/Cook/Sky, Yaida’s fourth album.
Sure, the first few tracks display Yaida’s talent for melody, but it’s not anything special that she hasn’t done better.
The Celtic touches of “Mienai Hikari”, while pleasant, aren’t new. (See “I can fly”, “I really want to understand”.) “Hitori Jenga” and “Kodoku na Cowboy” are obvious singles from the album but don’t hold up next to “Buzzstyle” or “Ring my bell”.
Perhaps even more depressing is just how lifeless Yaida’s music has become. Before, it was exuberent to the point of manic. Now, it’s predictable and generic.
She tries to toughen things up with the some heavy guitars on “Are you ready? boy” and “Mama to Daddy”, but they’re not enough to offset the 70s SoCal misstep of “Keep on movin'” or the lack of distinctiveness on “Hello” or “Slide show”.
Yaida is stuck. As much of a skilled songwriter she may be, she’s boxed herself in. Initial comparrisons to Shiina Ringo were indeed premature — Shiina has grown progressively daring, while Yaida is content to dole out the same album again and again.
At this rate, there’s not much point in paying attention to what she does next.