Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Perfume – Spice

This screencap: the day’s one sop to the States…

Edward Okulicz: “Spice” is as effortless as meticulously constructed, expansive modern pop gets. It pulls off the trick of elevating its singers into the atmosphere with whispers and floating synths with aplomb. Part of it’s how warm and inviting the sounds are — they could have been tinkled by anyone with a keyboard in their bedroom. The bigger part is how Perfume themselves strike a note of coolness; their voices float out of the speakers indistinct but dreamy, and their hooks come in manageable sequence.

Kat Stevens: This bang-on Bananarama impression is very pleasant.

Pete Baran: For a track with an intro that sounds like Max Tundra, and for an overly overtuned Japanese girl band, this is remarkably complex, catchy and cute. It may just be a couple of duelling keyboard presets backing the girls, but it is more than just relentlessly chirpy. A perfect example of the sterling engineering behind J-Pop fluff.

Iain Mew: Ever since hearing the amazing “Chocolate Disco” while shopping in Osaka, I’ve loved Perfume. Manufactured pop in the best sense, their songs always feel precision-designed and constructed more than written — a pursuit of pleasure in sounds and their interaction above all else, yet still with a certain warmth. The gorgeous interlocking synth lines of “Spice” are a case in point. Since the initial discovery, I’ve gotten into writer/producer Yasutaka Nakata’s other stuff too, from the harder dance of Capsule to the absurd hyper-pop of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, but Perfume remain the best match for him. Their anonymous and piled-up voices serve well as the key element in building an intricate melodic structure, and in “Spice,” something extra too — at the start of the middle eight, everything goes quiet and A-chan just briefly gets let loose from the vocal processing. It’s just a glimpse of humanity before she goes back into machine-tooled lockstep with the others, but it’s a singular and affecting moment.

Alfred Soto: I’m usually a sucker for tinsel-pop like this, but the melody isn’t interesting enough to support voices this evanescent.

Jonathan Bogart: Sounds like the best bits of my favorite Britney and Ke$ha songs from the past three years, only more so. (For reference, “Unusual You,” “Trip to Your Heart,” and “C U Next Tuesday.”)

Katherine St Asaph: The dance is the same material all pop’s made of now, and the vocal processing is just something in the air these days that catches in singers’ lungs. And the off-kilter chord progressions are something I’d trade both trends for.

Brad Shoup: Lord willing, Green Gartside will keep that impermeable tenor ’til the end of his days, but that ought not prevent him from shepherding new generations of pop decontructionists. With this shimmering Cupid & Psyche tribute, Perfume’s already onto the game. It’s dreamy in the literal sense, with the singers coming against the edges of perception, kicking at the unknowingness of connection. Peeks of Auto-Tune and modern drum loops enhance the message by twisting the timeline.

Zach Lyon: Strictly speaking of aesthetics, this gets a bit nauseating before long. Solid, self-reflecting walls of sound overpowering three strong voices by trickling and bouncing all over your ear drums: it’s just a bit too strong for my senses, in the way that Sleigh Bells isn’t, somehow. The hall of mirrors was always fun until you got lost.

3 Responses to “Perfume – Spice”

  1. So happy these girls are being talked about here, that Iain puts it in context _and_ mentions Kyary and Nakata’s mad 2011 masterpiece. Perfume’s new album JPN is out in five days and will be a perfect introduction to the group and Nakata for anyone intrigued by this gorgeous song.

  2. Glad to please! I’m looking forward to the album a lot. I still frequently listen to GAME.

  3. so glad you guys covered this. my second favorite song of the year, after 2NE1’s “ugly.” there’s something in those opening synths that makes me think of the word “onslaught” but it’s so goddamn pleasant.