For Real

<!– Link: L’Arc~en~Ciel

For all intents and purposes, L’Arc~en~Ciel has recorded the same album over and over again. The Japanese quartet’s songwriting covers a spectrum from second-rate Bacharach-ian pop to full-out rockers in total Pearl Jam vein.

Real follows last year’s double offering of ark and ray, the latter album marking a creative pinnacle in the group’s discography.

So what does “Laruku” do for an encore?

At the start of Real, Hyde and company take the glossy sheen that’s marked most of the group’s usual production aesthetic and throw it in the dirt.

Tracks such as “bravery” and “The Nepenthes” sound like they could have been recorded in Pavement’s garage. Even the haunting “Finale” begins with phonographic record noise.

There are also hints that L’Arc~en~Ciel are attempting to get on the Nine Inch Nails gravy train, sporting big synthesizers on “Neo Universe” and “get out from the shell.”

By the time the album ends, L’Arc~en~Ciel returns to being some sort of Japanese amalgam of the Cure and U2, doing away with the synthesizers and the basement-garage sound. In short, doing what they do best.

Sounds like a really scattered album, and on some level it is. While it still doesn’t knock ray off its mantle, Real certainly sports some ear-catching moments. Even the songs that could have sounded really sappy — “Time Slip”, “bravery” — don’t.

It’s a L’Arc~en~Ciel album through and through, and it’s one that makes a fine addition to an already existing L’arc collection.