Review by David Cirone
JAPONESQUE is a powerhouse 19-track release from Koda Kumi that affirms her place in modern J-Pop royalty. Full of confidence and maturity, Koda Kumi still hasn’t lost her playful side and unabashed sexiness.
JAPONESQUE opens strong with an instrumental intro theme of oriental-themes beats and the dreamy repeat of “Wannabe…” Slick production on “V.I.P.” (feat. T-PAIN) and “Lay Down” are solid dance-floor tracks, and “So Nice” (feat. Mr. Blistah) is a rare J-Pop guest track that strikes a perfect balance between the two singers. The ballad “Brave” has relaxed tempo and warmth that shelves the diva antics for a fine vocal performance.
“Boom Boom Boys” and “Poppin love cocktail” are fun asides if you don’t take Koda Kumi’s faux rock/rap persona seriously. “You are not alone (acoustic version)” has an inspirational intent, but the overdone hand-claps might come off better in an actual live performance than on this recorded track.
The real killer song combo comes dead-center in this album, with “ESCALATE” and “Love Me Back” dropping serious beats and demanding instant clicks on the replay button. “Love Me Back’s” catchy chorus is Koda Kumi’s shout-out to The Wizard of Oz: “Diamonds and Sapphires and You… Oh my!”