1996, Music

Viva! La Woman (1996) by Cibo Matto

I’m a subtitles guy, I’ll take subtitles over dubbing every single time. (Well, not quite: I’ll watch dubs for laughs.) Similarly, with music, I have strong opinions about listening to people sing in their own language versus singing in English when they don’t have complete command of that. This view appears to be a minority because I constantly come across critically acclaimed albums by people singing in English in thick accents, singing words that don’t always make sense. (Germans seem to be the worst offender but that could just be because I listen to krautrock more than I listen to other foreign music genres.) I bring this up because Hatori sings, speaks and shouts in English. And that is a huge barrier to me enjoying this album.

Because this should be my cup of tea: I like trip hop a lot and this record is more musically diverse than the vast majority of trip hop records I’ve ever heard. This duo appear to have no limits on what they want to do musically, which is cool but also makes sense given they are coming to trip hop from outside of the main scene (which was British).

Their eclecticism is the most impressive part of the record but not the only one. The songwriting is good in terms of melody, anyway – though a track or two stay too long, they’re certainly not lacking in hooks which is often the case with bands that try to “do everything”.

And I like the production too, though I suspect that’s because I like trip hop production. It sounds good to me all these years later, and that’s important for music like this.

So it’s just the accent and the lyrics. And I wish I could get over it but it’s a pretty fundamental part of the record.


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