Tokyo Groove etc.
I wrote my first review of Tokyo Grove probably the day or so after it was released. It was written very quickly, and not particularly well, which is ultimately why I chose not to publish it. Having re-read it again just now I think that was a good idea.
Needless to say, my initial reaction was not good. So I decided to let the album sit a little, mull over it a bit and then come back to it with a more level headed mindset and give it another try.
Unfortunately, it hasn't improved, and what I was struggling with then is still what I'm struggling with now; its becoming increasingly difficult for me to justify being a Halcali fan.
I won't deny that this has been an issue with me for a while now, but even their less impressive releases have always had that basic Halcali vibe; that fun, colourful and very unique spark that's been with them since the beginning.
I don't feel that at all on Tokyo Groove. This is a very cynical, emotionless release that feels as flat and cold as a piece of plastic. The whole thing just feels so lazy and rushed, reeking of little more than Sony looking for the quickest way to milk the most money from the fanbase with the least amount of work, perhaps while speeding up the end of their contractual obligations to Halcali in the process.
Remember when Halcali were overflowing with ideas and ambition? That's gone now. The first CD clocks in at a pathetic 8 tracks. Two of those are singles, another is a (utterly shameless!) b-side, one is actually quite good (the long lost Zig Zag Saturday Night), and three others are bland, instantly forgettable cookie cutter Jpop numbers which barely warrant a second listen. I wonder who they were originally written for?
Topping all of this off is a dreadful and amateurish 10 minute mash up of Halcali-when-they-were-good, which essentially only serves to remind you of everything they used to be, and everything they've lost.
The second CD of covers hardly warrants a mention, and could have been put together by any Halcali fan with a bit of time on their hands. Most of the songs are old (Ai dates back to their Bacon days), none are particularly interesting. It all makes for a very empty, depressing listen.
Does this tired, meandering mess mean the end of Halcali? You really feel like their fate is out of their hands anyway so its hard to say for sure. Maybe some inspired producer will whisk them away and they'll start making that fun, colourful, and unique music again.