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SAWA's Figure and Shadow: a Shadow of an Album (Review)

SAWA’s Figure and Shadow: a Shadow of an Album (Review)

May 8, 2010 | | 1 Comment Share thison Facebook SAWA’s Figure and Shadow: a Shadow of an Album (Review)on Twitter

I’ll admit I wasn’t really wowed by SAWA’s musical efforts on Square Enix’s Action RPG The World Ends With You. For some reason, it didn’t have the kind of impact that would get me to sit up and take notice. Patrick Gann’s review of their full-length album 333 called SAWA’s music “a sort of J-trash-rock sound” and that’s probably the best way to describe their music. He also goes on to say that their EP, Figure and Shadow is a step up from 333.

That, of course, is a strict comparison since I’ll be looking at Figure and Shadow without having had the benefit of listening to 333. And I’m not particularly impressed with I hear in this EP. Hit the jump to find out why.

In looking at this album as a whole, the instrumentals might not be experimental, but they sure get the job done through the combination of keyboard and electric guitar to create a sound that will catch your attention. Everything is great up to the moment where Sawa Kato, the band’s namesake, begins to sing. And when she opens her mouth, everything just goes downhill.

Starting with the titular track “Figure and Shadow,” Kato’s singing leaves you feeling wanting. I’m not quite sure what kind of effect she tries to achieve through the distorted vocals, but the overwhelming picture that I get from her efforts is one of a vocalist who lacks passion and energy. Listening to the first track becomes an exercise in getting myself to care about the song in spite of the monotony, and I just cannot bring myself to do so. There’s no emotion to be had and later on, when the rock pieces such as “Hearsay” require a more passionate delivery, she just cannot work herself to wow me because the singing is so flat.

The only track that might even be worth cheering for is the final track, “Fly High.” That one stands out because the acoustic guitar makes for a nice change of pace, bringing with it a folksy air that lends itself nicely to Kato’s style of singing. While we get a glimpse of how well she can convey those lamenting sentiments that she has put into “Promise,” the execution there is considerably flawed because of how dull the chorus section was. In “Fly High” however, she redeems herself. Although the vocals in the last track are restrained, they fit in with the song’s longing feelings. It’s certainly not the most engrossing listen in the world, but in an album containing so many boring tracks, I’ll have to squeeze as many positives as I possibly can, and “Fly High” helps me hit that quota.

Other than that, I wouldn’t bother. “Bubbles” is far too nonsensical for me to worry about, driving home the feeling that this album simply isn’t worth one’s time. You’ll have better luck elsewhere if you’re going to look for good music so unless SAWA’s really won you over with her music on The World Ends With You, I’d save those JapanFiles credits for something better.

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