Publish or perish.
It’s the driving force behind both academia and the Japanese music industry. (How strange such a connection can be made between the two.)
Following the creative success of 2003’s Present, Bonnie Pink returns a year later with Even So.
The pressure to produce continually can result in spotty work. For Bonnie Pink, the clarity of 2000’s Let go collapsed on 2001’s Just a Girl.
Would Even So fall under the same fate?
The album does have one obvious weak moment. Who thought it was a good idea to rip off Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” for the opening riff of “1 2 3”?
But for the most part, Even So and Present are actually two sides of the same coin.
There’s not much different about Pink’s writing on Even So — it’s the same kind of earnest singer-songwriter material that’s been the basis of her career.
But where Present was mostly introspective, Even So is quite extroverted.
The chorus of “5 More Minutes” bursts into some uncharacteristic rock guitars. “Private Laughter” starts off sounding slightly robotic, but its chorus also unleashes a storm.
“The answer ~Hitostu ni Naru Toki~” has a dark, dramatic quality that edges Pink closer to Cocco’s terrain, while “Shinsei Game” finds her delivering one of her fastest songs yet.
Pink makes room for some moments of introspection, notably “Ocean” and “I Just Want to Make You Happy”, but even a ballad such as “Last Kiss” makes room for some power chords.
Even So isn’t a totally different album from Present — or any of her other work, for that matter — but the way Pink is willing to rock out is quite distinctive.
It would have been nice if her label backed off a bit and spaced out her release schedule. Who knows how much more powerful the album would have been with just a few more months to write?
But as it stands, Even So is still a solid work.