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LABEL: DefSTAR Records RELEASE DATE: August 24, 2005 GENRE: Pop Punk
// review by Matt

Tommy Heavenly6 is to Japan as Avril Lavigne is to...

Tommy Heavenly6 is a pseudonym and alter-ego of Japanese pop princess Tomoko Kawase. It is a knee-jerk reaction to Tomoko's association with pink, cuddly things and fluffy pop music. According to Tomoko, the idea for Heavenly6 came from a dream that her other alter-ego, February6, had. The sound and style of Tommy Heavenly6 is decidedly very punk influenced, with guitars providing the main melody instead of synthesizers.

Despite Tommy Heavenly6 being made to counter Tomoko's disappointment in her February6 character, she decided to keep both characters (and careers) running in tandem. This review is focused on Tommy Heavenly6's first album, eponymously titled "Tommy Heavenly6". Convenient stuff.

As Japan tends to pad out its albums for as long as possible, recording of the album began in 2003, with singles released intermittently between then and the album's release in August 2005. This album debuted at #4 on the Oricon albums chart and sold enough copies to be certified with a Gold record by the Recording Industry Association of Japan.

But is it really THAT good? No, not really.

TRACK #01 - 2B Free
2BFree consists of blank, expressionless verses. The song sounds too raw, all part of the intense overreaction to Tomoko's hatred of appearing cute and cuddly. It isn't a bad start to the album, but the immediate moment Tomoko sings you can hear she's being put through an auto-tune that makes her sound almost robotic. The song does pick up at the chorus, which could almost be considered godlike in form. The synth line in the chorus is what "makes it". The chorus is so catchy that I found myself humming and singing it to myself. I cannot find myself disliking the song overall.

TRACK #02 - Ready?
Ready? has a nice start. The song is at a nice, quick pace. It cannot be said that the song is lacking an Incredible chorus. I really like this song, as it is suited my particular tastes. Tomoko needs to stop trying to sound American, though. Tomoko isn't doing herself any favours by trying to sound like this, because a lot of people (including myself, to begin with) thought she was nothing more than an Avril Lavigne wannabe.

TRACK #03 - Wait Till I Can Dream
Wait till I can dream is absolutely raw, sounds almost unfinished. It is a catchy number, though. I feel that the song is of the metal genre but played in a punk style. The repeating guitar riff is pleasant. The two guitar solos are very welcome and sound akin to something you'd expect to hear from Black Sabbath. Even so, the punk sound bleeds through in this track. As a whole, I like this track quite a bit.

TRACK #04 - Fell In Love With You
Fell In Love With You has a very different sound to rest of album so far, quite melancholic and reflective. It starts out very basic, but instruments are added during the chorus for a fuller sound. The chorus is the best part, which isn't difficult, because the verses are completely forgettable.

TRACK #05 - Wanna Be Your Idol
Wanna Be Your Idol is just a complete mess of noise. The section beginning, "Just call your name" is fantastic, but the rest of song is just unbearable. This track is nails-on-a-chalkboard bad as a whole.

TRACK #06 - +Gothic Pink+
+Gothic Pink+ relies on stereotypical gothic imagery to drive home that this incarnation of Tomoko Kawase is the "dark" one. It couldn't be more painful though, listening to her sing about cross-shaped birthday cakes and skies of blood. I feel Tomoko's voice doesn't fit this song. It's too robotic sounding from the auto-tune. It also sounds like a cute voice trying to sing about horror stuff, which is basically what this song equates to.

TRACK #07 - Swear
Swear starts out with a nice, rough guitar line. It goes for two verses before the chorus, which feels like a long time because the song is already repetitive by that point. The auto-tune in the verse is once-again awful. Chorus comes in after a minute and a half, and it fails to do a good job pulling the track from despair. Not dreadful like Wanna Be Your Idol, but still clearly a weak song.

TRACK #08 - Lost My Pieces
Lost My Pieces begins with an excellent industrial drum beat. Just as the verse is starting to sound weak, the chorus comes in and blows me away every time. A slower song, and benefits from the long notes. The auto-tune sound works in the verse. Catchy, and I find myself singing and humming along to it. This is the start of what I consider the three track trifecta; I usually just pick and play these three tracks instead of the whole album.

TRACK #09 - Gimme All Of Your Love!!
Gimme All Of Your Love!! is almost the best track on the album. It contains fantastic drumming. Excellent guitar sound. Vocals sound really great. There is a mind-blowing breakdown in the middle. The second track of the three track selection I usually listen to.

TRACK #10 - LCDD
LCDD is in a league of its own. Truly excellent chords. Nice pace. This melody is the catchiest on the album. The song contains a perfect, full sound. This is the last track of the three track selection, and what I consider as the best track on the album.

TRACK #11 - Hey My Friend
How did Hey My Friend get a single release but LCDD didn't!? This song sounds too much like an Avril Lavigne song. Although the chorus is decent, this song is weak in comparison to the previous three. Hey My Friend is not terrible, but it is only a decent listen. It is not a track I intentionally listen to.

Japan clearly must have low standards. Besides these three knockout songs near the end of the album, and a couple of decent attempts near the beginning, Tommy Heavenly6 comes up quite short overall. I want to like the album, but I honestly find that Tomoko's cute sound is far more suited to the candy pop genre. Later albums released under the character of Tommy Heavenly6 are more fleshed out, with better pieces, but there are still songs on those albums that are just superfluous and unnecessary. While this album is certainly an above average attempt, there are a number of songs that aren't trying to be at all pleasant to listen to, which results in Tomoko literally shooting herself in the foot. In trying so hard to avoid coming across fluffy and sparkling, general rules of what makes a good tune were seemingly thrown out of the window.


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