POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, October 16, 2011 Share
If you happened to be living anywhere in Japan, back in the year 1998, you couldn’t escape the magnum force of Puffy. When Puffy released Jet in early April, that CD hit number one on the Oricon Weekly Albums Charts and stayed there for a record breaking 16-weeks. So just what made Jet such a hit?
First you have to forgive and forget Cartoon Network’s inane cartoon called Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi that was aimed at American teenaged girls. Also pass up any music released in the US. That is just localized garbage that tries to carter to Western tastes and doesn’t work at all. What makes Puffy’s music such an ear sweet listen is their unique Japanese take on Pop Punk. Puffy takes the early punk vibe of The Who and combines that with the rich vocal harmonies of The Beatles with a dash of ABBA and The Carpenters thrown in as well. The result is something you think that you have heard before but haven’t. Some bands bury their influences and others bring everything out. The latter is where Puffy succeeds because they are not ashamed to sound like certain groups and they just have fun with it. So just how did two sexy singers get together and form a band?
Ami was singing in a high school band called Hanoi Sex and that band got signed to Sony Music. Ami studied performance music at a local school and became better as a result. Meanwhile, 18-year old Yumi decided to leave her native Osaka for Tokyo and auditioned for Sony. The two randomly met at the office and got along well. They both tired unsuccessful solo careers and it wasn’t until Sony asked them to join together that Puffy was formed. Then it all reached a climax when the Jet CD came out.
The opening track, Jet Police, borrows heavily from the Who with big Peter Townsend power chords, then the vocals begin and it is all Puffy. You still hear the Who throughout but with Japanese vocals and rocking guitar solos you don’t care. Jet Police is a great opener and sets you up for an album that has no bad songs. Jet is one of those rare albums that you can listen to from beginning to end several times.
Next is That’s the Way It Is with hooky Beatles guitar lines, smooth harmonies, and a sing along chorus that is made to be sung at any given karaoke bar. The Beatles influence also comes out with a cool retro 60’s harmonica solo.
Things shift gears with Cake Is Love, a laid back pop groove with the occasional Vocaloid tossed in for good measure that creates an effective call and response pattern. Numerous cakes are referenced throughout and that just adds to the sweetness.
Next is Sign of Love that has a catchy harmony that sucks you in. The middle of the song features a cool guitar solo that plays the vocal line.
Spring Morning is a slow jazz number on piano that wonderfully breaks up the other rock songs. You wouldn’t think that jazz would work on a pop album until you hear it.
As Spring Morning ends, Lemon Kid continues with jazz. Lemon Kid has cool jazz guitar lines that are smooth and compliment the vocals for a great sounding vibe.
Little Beauty brings the punk influence back with a touch of metal.
Next up is Curiously that opens with beautiful guitar arpeggios and then those wonderful dual harmony lines that make Puffy great.
Then there is the strange yet interesting slow country number called Philosophy that sounds like country until the pop chorus.
De Rio is my favorite track and another rock number that has great loud vocals mixed with rocking guitar fills. This is the song that gets me out of all of my bad moods.
My second favorite song is Wild Girls on Circuit that feature driving sound effects combined with a catchy pop feel.
Now Jet has a big 70’s disco number called Nagisa Beach Fever that recall ABBA . This song reminds me of 70’s Jpop by Pink Lady like UFO.
Jet ends with Mother an alt rock tune that reminds me of what the Cranberries might sound like in Japanese.
The Jet CD will remain Puffy’s best effort and it should because whatever your favorite musical genres are, one of the songs with carter to that like mixed in with a combination of other genres. There is something for the pop, rock, punk, alt, country, and even disco fan. This is one of those albums that after I listen to it I want to go back to track one and listen again. So check out Puffy’s Jet CD and see what all the fuss about back in Japan in 1998.
"The Asian Aperture" is ©2011 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.
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