By: Eric G.
During the first track of Triangulum, “The Jelly Is Set!”, I thought I was listening to an outtake off Cibo Matto’s debut full-length, but, thankfully, One Star has so much more to offer than miming fellow Japanese pop stars with cute but awkward English skills. One Star specializes in irresistible melodies and harmonies with catchy synthetic hooks to boot. The trio consists of two guys and a girl, plugging away at various electronic noisemakers: turntables, samplers, and rhythm machines along with a few conventional guitars and basses.
Like Takako Minekawa and the aforementioned Cibo Matto, One Star is redefining the cutting edge of modern Japanese pop. Each song is a light-hearted journey into dancey rhythms, retro guitars, honey-coated, echoed vocals and hip-hop beats. One Star’s sound is very laid back with a strong French-pop influence. Many of the instruments sound like toys, which give way to the simple, child-like melodies. Triangulum is an instantly accessible album but each listening reveals new discoveries. One Star packs each song full of weird, scuttling noises and memorable foundational melodies upon which several tangential melodies are piled.
Several tracks off Triangulum have been stuck in my head all week and I find myself coming back to it again and again. “E.U.R.O.P.A.” is the perfect example of One Star’s ability to make a song seem so simple on the surface when it’s actually a densely constructed and layered effort. The guitars perpetuate an agreeable but slightly melancholic chord progression while Kumi Ohmori’s vocals float hauntingly in the background amidst several subtle keyboard lines. “Silver Sodapop” struts at a jaunty pace loaded with retro-sounding electronics. Musically, the title track wouldn’t have been out of place on The Magnetic Fields’ The Charm Of The Highway Strip, but Ohmori’s vocals could never be mistaken for Stephin Merritt’s crooning lilt. Triangulum successfully blends bouncy pop and maudlin electronic experimentation with a retro-futuristic twist.