Rough and ready

First, a disclosure: I never listened to Judy and Mary.

Given the group’s popularity and judging from the various clips on Sony’s web site, JAM didn’t seem to target my particular tastes.

And yet, there’s ample evidence singer Yuki was capable of far more than what Judy and Mary afforded her.

Yuki has worked with Chara on numerous occassions, mostly recently as dual drummers on the all-girl grunge band Mean Machine. She also teamed up with Kate Pierson of the B-52’s on NiNa.

It’s not surprising, therefore, to hear Yuki take full advantage of her freedom as a solo artist.

Prismic, Yuki’s debut solo album, is a cornucopia of divergent rock ‘n’ roll styles. From the rough-hewned indie rock of “The End of Shite” (written by Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her’s Higurashi Aiha) to the reverb-drenched drama of “Noroi”, the raspy-voiced singer sets out to show she’s not beholden to stylistic boundaries.

Of course, that’s a cocky gamble for any artist to make. A jack of all trades is a master of none, and a singer who doesn’t strike the right balance between cohesion and diversity ends up sounding amateur.

Yuki manages to avoid that pitfall by keeping the overall of mood of the album loose and fun.

The bouncy “Sayonara Dance” may come from a different mindset than the grunge-y “I U Mee Him”, but Yuki ties both performances together by keeping them rough.

“Wakusei ni Nore” depends largely on a hyper-fast electronic beats, but it’s tempered by breaks of live guitar. Even the whimsical “Rainbow St.” featuring the Zoobombs’ Don gets a bit of gravity from a buzzing, distortion-filled chorus.

When Yuki ventures into more conventional pop territory, she still manages to sound unproduced. Her grainy voice infuses “Ai ni Ikite” with a rough passion, and she sounds simultaneously vulnerable and unflappable on “Furete Nemure”.

From track to track, Prismic switches from one sonic universe to another, but the glue holding it all together is Yuki’s singular voice. She keeps things less than polished, and it results in some really good rock ‘n’ roll.