Whip out your hair

Judging by the singles she released in the two years since recording her second album, it was easy to assume Cocco was mellowing out.

Not. Likely.

In context of the rest of Rapunzel, the Japanese singer’s third album, these singles serve as means to anchor the disc’s wilder moments — of which there are plenty.

The album’s opener, “Kemono Michi” (“Animal Trail”), establishes the grunge-y threshold over which subsequent tracks eventually surpass. By the conclusion of the feedback-overloaded “Kagari Bi” (“A Watch Fire”), listeners will welcome the mellow reprieve of “Polomerria.”

Cocco’s more rocking moments tend to suffer for a single-note syndrome, and a few of the melodies on Rapunzel resemble other Cocco songs a bit too closely. But what she lacks in verse writing, Cocco more than makes up for in creating a totally visceral listening experience.

Cocco also indulges her sweeter side, strategically placing lighter but no less compelling tracks as “Shiroi Kyouki” (“White Madness”) and “Jukai No Ito” (“Thread in the Deep Forest”) between the louder moments on the album.

Even the requisite “fun” track, “Unabara no Ningyo” (“Mermaid in the Ocean Field”) doesn’t seem out of place. (On previous albums, Cocco included self-written children’s songs that stuck out like sore thumbs against the rest of her emotional work.)

Cocco’s voice has gotten dramatically stronger. “Shiroi Kyouki” sports some high notes that gives Mariah Carrey a run for her money. “Kemono Michi” includes both Cocco’s blood-curdling scream and some musical wails.

Although not as hook-filled as her 1997 debut bougainvillia, Rapunzel is still a forceful opus. Cocco has greatly expanded the emotional breadth of her music to astonishing results.