The album I am featuring in today’s “Discovering Japanese Music” is My Little Lover’s second album, “PRESENTS”.
My Little Lover is a group that began back in 1995 with vocalist Akko, guitarist Kenji Fuji and producer/songwriter Takeshi Kobayashi (best known for producing hits for The Southern All Stars and Mr. Children).
Bursting into the music scene with several hits with “Man & Woman/My Painting”, “Hello, Again ~Mukashi Kara Aru Basho~” (which translates to “Hello, Again ~ An Old Place), “Alice”, “Now and Then ~Ushinawareta Toki o Motomete~”, “Yes (Free Flower)”, to name a few. With “Hello , Again”, the song which was a drama theme song, would sell 1.8 million copies. And their first album “evergreen” would go on to sell 2.8 million copies.
With the release of “PRESENTS”, there was a high anticipation for the group to prove that they can create music and not be among the many groups with a few hits from a first run and fade away.
And what would happen was rather interesting. Akko and Takeshi Kobayashi would get married (and divorced over a decade later) and would experiment with different styles of music to incorporate a world view.
In 1996, My Little Lover would release a popular upbeat-hit, “Alice” but it was single-only and released as an Internet CD-Rom. In fact, My Little Lover was one of the few groups in Japan to take advantage of the Internet by showcasing the group creating music in the studio with fellow musicians and encouraged people to pay for premium content that people could access on the Interent CD-Rom (which contained a game) and a highly compressed music video for “Alice”.
So, their second album “PRESENTS” would include their fifth single “Now and Then ~Ushinawareta Toki o Motomete~” (which translates to “Now and Then ~ Seeking Lost Time~”), their sixth single “YES ~free flower~”, their 8th single “Shuffle” and their 10th single “Sora no Shita de”, while their third album “NEW ADVENTURE” which would incorporate more of a world persective towards music, included their other hits such as “Alice”, “ANIMAL LIFE”, “Private Eyes” and “DESTINY”, which an even more experimental mini-album titled “The Waters” was released a few months later.
So, there is no doubt that My Little Lover was an interesting band to follow because they were creating music that would satisfy Japanese music fans but also creating music that they wanted to experiment with for other albums.
But as for “PRESENTS”, it’s a well-balanced album with their hit music but also a few experimental tracks such as “Naked”, and MLL style tracks such as “anniversary”.
But the true winners are the single tracks, the mellow and hypnotic “Now and Then ~Ushinawareta Toki o Motomete” is a winner, “YES ~free flower~” was truly addictive and simple, while you had the catchy “Sora no Shita de” and their jovial track “Shuffle”.
For the most part, “PRESENTS” was a lively album and My Little Lover is a group I highly recommend!
Also, check out this interview that myself and Hiroshi Tagawa did with Akko of My Little Lover back in 2007.