Shugo Tokumaru – In Focus? Shugo Tokumaru – In Focus?

Shugo_Tokumaru-In-Focus-ArtThe title of Japanese multi-instrumentalist Shugo Tokumaru‘s sixth studio album is more than a little ironic. For the uninitiated, Tokumaru specialises in sprightly indie-pop, more often than not with several different instruments piled on top of each other. Add to this the fact that Tokumaru sings entirely in his native tongue, and you have a discography which is practically teasing the reviewer to use the phrase “on acid”.

There’s more to Tokumaru’s work on In Focus? than reveals itself on first listen, though. There may be a temptation to dismiss Tokumaru’s use of obscure instruments and his preference for singing in Japanese as gimmicky, but there is solid songwriting to be found throughout In Focus?. And Tokumaru’s influences are as varied as the instruments he uses to create his songs; the Beach Boys and the Beatles provide loose reference points to songs that are, for the most part, incredibly catchy pick-me-ups – only the sombre ‘Tightrope’ deviates from the formula; standing alone as a melancholic acoustic guitar piece around the album’s midway point. It works as a sort of palate cleanser, sandwiched in-between a group of songs that refuse to sit still. Take the Flaming Lips-inspired opener of ‘Katachi’; a grand opening statement which, despite containing a slew of different woodwind and string instruments, still manages to come across as a great pop song. What’s more, if 2013 has seen a catchier song than ‘Decorate’, I’m yet to hear it- alarm clocks and electric guitar riffs are the unlikely duo juxtaposed to devastating effect here.

Whilst I will maintain that In Focus? is an album that should be given due consideration beyond its eclectic instrumentation and melting pot of influences, it remains, essentially, an album of twee indie-pop. What’s more, the basis of Tokumaru’s lyrics are drawn from the songwriter’s “Daily Dream Diary”, which he tries to articulate by including as many different instruments as possible in his recordings. It’s no basis for a timeless classic, but that said, In Focus? is a technicolour journey through a very busy mind – and a damn catchy one at that.

Shugo Tokumaru – In Focus? Tracklist:

01. Circle
02. Katachi
03. Gamma
04. Decorate
05. Call
06. Mubyo
07. Poker
08. Ord Gate
09. Pah-Paka
10. Tightrope
11. Helictite (LeSeMoDe)
12. Shirase
13. Micro Guitar Music
14. Down Down
15. Balloon

Shugo Tokumaru - In Focus?, reviewed by Lemon on 2013-02-04T07:39:10-08:00 rating 3.5 out of 5

Comments are closed.