Nagisa Ni Te's fifth album, The Same As a Flower, is their most assured and melodically interesting record yet. The Japanese indie pop/free folk duo have never been about songs as much as about sounds and fragile emotions. This album is not that different.
There are scant hooks or singalong choruses to be found (with one exception to be discussed later). In their place are meandering, lazy meditations that drift and eddy like lazy mountain streams. Much like their previous record, Feel, the subtle use of a wide range of instrumentation gives the songs a feeling of a late-night casual musical get-together. That impression is illusory, however, because Masako Takeda and Shinji Shibayama have strict control over the sound and their very precise playing and arranging are stronger than ever. The usual excellent folky ballads like the delicate and exquisite "A Light" and the loping "The Same As a Flower" predominate, but there are a couple of surprises, such as the epic ballad "Bramble." Sung tenderly by Shibayama and Takeda, the track spreads languorously over 11 and a half minutes, culminating in a spiraling guitar solo and great washes of Mellotron strings and brass. They have never sounded so compelling before. The group also makes a tentative step toward pop songcraft with "After a Song," which features an actual straight 4/4 drumbeat, fully strummed guitars, a dual slide guitar lead break, and a sweetly sung, very poppy chorus. The shock after almost 40 minutes of pastoral drift is a very pleasant one. If they wanted, the band could head in this direction and make a very good straight indie pop record. As it is, they have made an inventive, daring, and warmly satisfying record that should please anyone who already dug them and should win them some new fans as well.
|The Same as a Flower / Shinji Shibayama||Nagisa Ni Te||6:45|
|Threads of Souls / Shinji Shibayama||Nagisa Ni Te||4:50|
|River / Shinji Shibayama||Nagisa Ni Te||3:48|
|A Light / Shinji Shibayama||Nagisa Ni Te||5:41|
|Wife / Shinji Shibayama||Nagisa Ni Te||4:42|
|Bramble / Shinji Shibayama||Nagisa Ni Te||11:41|
|Beyond the Grass / Shinji Shibayama||Nagisa Ni Te||5:58|
|After a Song / Shinji Shibayama||Nagisa Ni Te||4:13|
|Hope / Shinji Shibayama||Nagisa Ni Te||3:01|