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Music review: Aco – Mask April 19, 2008

Posted by ashiah in old.

Aco seems to suffer from identity crisis. Maybe while growing up she thought she wanted to be a teacher, than an astronaut, than a doctor, a dancer and a pet shop owner. All the adults thought it was perfectly normal for her, being a child and all, and that she would decide on something eventually. No one knew it would last this long.

Although Aco has not switched careers, her music seems to lack a true identity. It appears Aco has no idea what she wants to write about, convey to, or sound like. Like Madonna, it seems each album has a new persona, a “new” Aco to unleash on the world, and up until this point it surprisingly worked.

Aco started her career in the mid ’90s as a cheesy r&b singer. She wore tons of make-up and slithered around in tight clothing. Gradually, her maturity set in and her music became more soulful and laid back. The clothes came back on and the make up was wiped off. Aco made a complete turnpoint in her career after the releases of “Absolute Ego” and “Material,” two albums that showed Aco gradually getting in touch with electronic experimentation. Her past album “Irony” was a remarkable record that even rivaled Bjork’s “Vespertine.”

So what happened?

Perhaps Aco got bored of her past persona and knew she could not live up to the greatness of “Irony.” What else could persuade her to produce “Mask,” a mini album with every ounce of creative juice sucked dry as if attacked by mutant vampires?

“Mask” Aco sounds nothing like “Irony” Aco. This Aco sounds like an amateur J-pop singer, producing cheap songs on a Casio keyboard. First track “Ya-Yo!” is incredibly cute and catchy, but also comes across as repetitive and cheesy. “Guilty” can fit easily on any ’90s soundtrack to a teen flick and “Rikunoritou” will fit neatly on one of Aco’s older albums.

“Cover Girl” shows Aco trying to exert sassy by pouting, “You’re so jealous of me…it’s so irritating.” The track is a throwback retro, electro pop piece, which is surprisingly one of the better numbers. “Faun Nano” shows Aco transforming into a club princess with a very hardcore house track, possibly the most hardcore song in Aco’s entire catalog.

The stand out track is a cover of The Waitresses’ “I Know What Boys Like,” produced by laptop extraordinaire Aoki Takamasa. Although Aco seems to lack the personality to truly show the cocky aura of the song, the production by Takamasa spins the song into an updated tribute full of trademark blips and bloops.

Any artist is expected to go through some type of transformation in their career. If not, then there’s no reason for people to keep buying their albums and showing up to their concerts. “Mask” is proof that not only has Aco run out ideas, but she is also taking huge creative steps backward. It’s very disappointing to see it happen to such a promising artist, but there’s always next persona



1. Japanese Music Post - Extra Sugar, Extra Salt - March 7, 2011

[…] ACO always seemed to suffer from some kind of identity crises. I talked about it in length when I reviewed Mask way back went it first came out. It’s one of the major reasons why I have a problem with her […]

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