Fashion chameleon

So what has Nomiya Maki been doing since the dissolution of Pizzicato Five in 2001? For one thing, doing what she does best — being a chameleon.

Nomiya spent some time modeling, doing voice-overs for commericals, even publishing an “image” book — pretty much a whole lot of non-musical stuff.

But Nomiya did take off enough time to record a third solo album. (She did one in 1982, way before Pizzicato Five was even an idea.)

Lady Miss Warp reflects Miss Maki Nomiya’s catholic interest in trashy hipster pop. The album jumps all over the place — ’60s bubblegum, international pop, ’70s Japanese pop, territorial Hawaiian, disco, rock, dub.

On first listen, it’s obvious something is missing. With Pizzicato Five, Nomiya could depend on Yasuharu Konishi to splice all those disparate elements into an insanely catchy and original whole.

Lady Miss Warp, on the other hand, sieves out that patchwork and presents those influences as pastiche. Sure, there’s still that Shibuya-kei playfullness intrinsic to Nomiya’s fashion thing persona.

But Nomiya has done better on her own before — her second solo album, recorded a year before Pizzicato Five’s demise, felt far more organic than even Pizzicato Five!

Repeated listenings, however, reveal Nomiya’s charisma goes a long way in binding a scattered effort. Her smooth croon fits well in any setting. She makes even the dated, second rate Marvin Gaye-isms of “Kibun wo Dashite Moo Ichidoo” feel fun.

Lady Miss Warp does have its triumphant moments. The rocking “You Are My Star” shows her cover of KISS’ “Hard Luck Woman” on Miss Maki Nomiya Sings was no fluke. “Hori Made Hitottobi” injects some hard funk into what’s mostly a sugary album.

“Waikiki 66” could never be mistaken for Melveen Leed, let alone Petty Booka. But it does show Nomiya doesn’t need an army of samplers to sound beautiful.

A series of instrumental interludes throughout the album does the unfortunate job of dividing the album in terms of appeal. My personal favorite is the last third, but Pizzicato Five fans may find the first third most familiar.

Even if Lady Miss Warp misses some of that pop collage magic of Pizzicato Five, it’s still a fun, decent work from a very magnetic singer.