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The Japanese Popstars: Controlling Your Allegiance

The Japanese Popstars
Controlling Your Allegiance
(Astralwerks)

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Some dance acts can fall victim to too much distortion and not enough content, but that’s fortunately not the case with The Japanese Popstars. With beats attractive enough to make Massive Attack jealous and with guest stars galore, Controlling Your Allegiance can pack a dance floor to its limits and also leave the casual listener engaged without ever having to start moving.

Hailing from Northern Ireland, the not so aptly named Japanese Popstars flaunt semi-local collaborations in their latest offering. Ex-Damien Rice muse Lisa Hannigan elevates “Song for Lisa” from standard grinding fair to a haunting and gorgeous piece of work, while singer/songwriter James Vincent McMorrow’s falsetto is perfectly suited to the transfixing “Shells of Silver.”

Collaborators extend far beyond Ireland though. The Cure’s Robert Smith leaves his historic impact upon “Take Forever,” and Jon Spencer is instantly recognizable on “Destroy.” However, it’s the closing track of “Joshua” that features the most notable vocals, those of Tom Smith from Editors. His baritone is gripping and often compared to that of Ian Curtis, but he proves that he has the range and flexibility to explore different genres with this record. Controlling Your Allegiance is always fun but also challenging if you give it the time it deserves.

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About Casey Hicks

Casey Hicks toils her daylight hours away in an office high above Manhattan in order to afford nights of passionately scribbling. The first song she remembers ever hearing is "Lola" by the Kinks. She thinks this explains a lot.
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