Yep, you read it right. The tag did say jpop and not the usual jrock. This review will focus on the jpop/classical album Shojo Jikakeno Libretto – Lolitawork Libretto (whew, that was quite a mouthful) by cellist/singer Kanon Wakeshima. Then again, producing it was no less than Malice Mizer/Moi dix Moi and goth-loli fashion progenitor Mana. If that doesn’t rake up enough street cred for visualists to take notice, then I don’t know what would. I myself first encountered Kanon via Vampire Knight. Her song Still Doll was used in the closing credits and it’s one stunning track and totally befitting the theme of the anime. She contributed another song for the second season entitled Suna no Oshiro and though not as astounding as Still Doll, it was still commendable. Shojo Jikakeno Libretto is my first exposure to Kanon’s work outside Vampire Knight’s soundtrack.
The album starts off with Shakespeare no Wasureno. It’s an absolutely beautiful instrumental track and displays Kanon’s mastery of the cello very well. It is initially melancholic then gradually builds up to a whimsical finish. Shakespeare no Wasureno wouldn’t feel out of place in anyone’s classical music playlist. In fact, it is very reminiscent of Vivaldi and would make a perfect compliment to the Italian master’s Four Seasons. A music box version of Shakespeare no Wasureno appears later in the album and it is likewise a must listen.
The second track Kajitsu no Keikoku is where the jpop aspect manifests itself. Kanon’s vocals also make its first appearance in this song. Kajitso no Keikoku is a very rousing number. I appreciate the beat, most especially the intro. My only beef with it is that come chorus part, Kanon’s voice becomes high pitched and really, really annoying.
The succeeding songs: Heroine Syndrome, twinkle star!, Toumei no Kagi, and Marmalade Sky all sound like typical jpop fare to me, only there’s a bit of orchestration involved. Things do perk up though on track 7, Kuroneko to Pianist no Tango. A piano track as the title suggests, the song is in a class of its own and is easily one of the most notable tracks in the album. I’ve yet to read the lyrics but I’m betting it’s really playful given the number of times Kanon said ‘meow’ in the song.
Distinct Kuroneko to Pianist no Tango may be, my favorite in the album though is the song that comes after it: Princess Charleston. Princess Charleston is simply brilliant. It’s Alice in Wonderland in a song. It’s a big brass band gone mad. It’s as if Queen Victoria ate too many happy brownies. Princess Charleston is enough reason to take note of this album, period.
Tree of Sorrow, on the other hand, is a bit of letdown after the brilliant pairing of Kuroneko and Princess Charleston. The track is on the same level as Heroine Syndrome et al thus it’s a wonder why it was not placed alongside those songs in the first place. Fortunately, the next track celmisia is far from being typical. Kanon seem to struggle reaching the high notes in the chorus but it’s less grating on the nerves than Kajitsu no Keikoku. Actually, it gives the song advantage and personality. The intro in addition sounds like Still Doll and as I love that song, it’s very easy for me to warm up to celmisia.
Otome no March is an ok song so I’ll just skip right to the album’s finale: Lolitawork Libretto. The track features guest vocals by French songstress Solita. Sadly, the collaboration is not as epic as I expected it to be. Lolitawork Libretto do have some outstanding portions but overall, it sounds a bit confused. And that could be said of the whole album as well. Shojo Jikakeno Libretto has the makings of a sophisticated album but it lacks cohesion. With the exception of the standout tracks, the songs needs more polish and focus. Still, as far as jpop albums are concerned, Kanon Wakeshima’s sophomore effort is a welcome reprieve from idol territory.