Looking outward

Shiratori Maika sounds really comfortable in an introspective setting. And it would be human nature for her music to reflect that comfort.

That’s not to say she doesn’t sound good rocking out.

On her third album, Gemini, Shiratori sounds good.

Two-thirds of the album is safely esconed in the faster end of the metronome, and it’s not until the end of the album does she turn inward.

And when she rocks out, she stretches to some unprecedented territory.

“Kimi no Yowasa” sounds like Shiratori snuck an advance of U2’s How to Build an Atomic Bomb — the song starts off sparsely with a rumbling bass line, only to give way to chugging guitars and eventually a hint of a dance beat in the chorus.

“Sakebu Sakana” calls to mind some early 80s post punk influences, most notably New Order and the Smiths.

Shiratori indulges in another U2 quote, starting “Wait a Minute” with the same chords as “Desire”, then combining a gritty guitar sound with some funky drumming. Think Lion and the Cobra-era Sinéad O’Connor.

The single releases from the album — “Kowaremono” and “Sora Kakeru Niji” — indulge in the same conventions as her previous singles. They’re not as wildly catchy as “Shelter” or “Red Clover”, but they’ve got the kind of memorable writing that seeps into the subconscious after a few listens.

After “Wait a Minute”, Gemini scales back drastically, but it doesn’t crash, despite the preponderence of slow songs that make up the last third of the album.

“Rain” seethes with a smoldering intensity, while “Kaze ni Kike” builds to a grand finale, much like the conclusion of her debut album, Hanazono.

The songs on Gemini are much stronger than those on her second album, Toogenkyoo, and she continues her collaboration with producer Yayoshi Junji.

Yayoshi, however, doesn’t have the kind of punchy finesse as previous producer Takemune Negishi, and it’s a curiosity whether Takemune could have given Gemini a stronger sound.

As it stands, Gemini is still a beefy album. Shiratori would do well to tap into more extroverted writing because it suits her nicely.