February 20, 2004

Rhythm Fantasy "World 2003"

One of the drawbacks of my life is that I don't get out to Japan as often as I should. I really would like to spend more time in Tokyo, where the kiddies have pocky and you get salutations from kitties. They also love music over there, especially music that nobody would give the time of day to over here, and they are prone to overwhelming devotion, too. It's fun to listen to Japanese groups, because it's interesting to hear their approach to our music.

Rhythm Fantasy is a duo, Marilyn Lo and Reiko Nishida, accompanied and produced by pop conniseur and Penelopes leader Tatsuhiko Watanabe. Upon realizing that the artwork was designed by legendary indie-pop artist Mike Alway, it shouldn't take you too long to determine what this record is going to sound like. Looking at the duo's bright, smiling faces on the cover also leads you to believe that, at the very least, the music on World 2003 is going to be happy. Very, very happy.

Indeed, you can judge a book by its cover, and the music is indeed very happy-sounding pop. Blending a nice mixture of harmony and keyboard-driven melodies, Rhythm Fantasy are indeed a dreamy delight of English synthpop. They follow really close to the Saint Etienne/Beaumont formula, and that's okay, because the world needs more bands following close to that formula. Though occasionally they have a sad-eyed sound, such as on "You Deserve The Best In Life" and the Carpenters-meets-Abba grand finale, the utterly beautiful "Til The End of Time," they're never too sad or too moody or too depressing. In my mind, "Miracle" and "Skyscraper" have already been hits. I swear I've heard them before, sitting in the hair salon in the mall circa 1989.

Though this record is criminally brief--seven songs in twenty-eight minutes is not enough!--I have enjoyed every moment of it. I've forgotten how romantic and sweet music can be, and these songs are utterly, utterly tender. They make me want to fall in love again so that I can make mixtapes and put their songs on them. I am now officially in love with Marilyn and Reiko, and after a few spins of World 2003, you will be, too. A great record that may be hard to find but is worth seeking out!

--Joseph Kyle

Label website: http://www.jttk.zaq.ne.jp/penelopes/
Artist website: http://www2.odn.ne.jp/rhythm-fantasy/

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