Beautiful but pretty

Cocco must be thrilled she’s leaving the music business. The usually intense Japanese singer finishes her career with her brightest album ever.

Barely 10 months after releasing the loud, grunge-y Rapunzel, Cocco returns with Sangrose, an album heavy on sweeping ballads and quiet songs.

Even the album’s opener, “Sango to Hana to” (“Coral and the flowers”), is driven mostly by acoustic guitars, a departure from previously harsh starters such as “Kemono Michi” (Rapunzel) or “Kubi” (bougainvillia).

And while the album does contain a number of requisite headbangers — “Wagamama na Te” (“Selfish Hand”) contains the simplest and hardest riff on a Cocco album — most of Sangrose stays in the lower portion of the volume knob.

The minimalistic “Utsukushii Hibi” (“Beautiful Days”) builds gradually but never rises beyond a loud whisper. “Fuuka Fuusou” (“Funeral of Weathering”) resembles “Raining” with its grandiose chorus and dramatic strings.

Just when you think Cocco can’t deliver another terrific single, she does. Cocco’s most intriguing entry in this mostly ballad-driven album is “Hane ~lay down my arms~”. She practically soars on the song’s chorus.

Sangrose veers violently between its introspective moments and its more out-going tracks. The short, sweet interlude “Still” is followed by a rousing, cheerleader-like anthem of “Dream’s a dream.”

Conversely, the dark “Hoshi ni Negai Wo” (“Wish Upon a Star”) is followed by a gorgeous piano ballad, “Tamagotsuki no Koro” (“Around April”).

Cocco delivers some beautiful music, but not all of it is necessarily pretty. Rapunzel and bougainvillia can get downright savage. Sangrose, however, is an incredibly pretty album that just so happens to be quite beautiful.

Although Cocco announced her retirement from music in late February, the young singer isn’t exactly an aging rock star. Should she never stage a comeback, Sangrose still serves as a remarkable conclusion to a career filled with plenty of creative highs.