City pop is the name given to a musical genre that appeared in Japan in the late 1970s. Strongly westernized, it displayed just about all the characteristics that defined the accessible if remarkably square pop of the ’80s: languorous and funky bass, layers of synthesizers, saxophone, impeccable but often sterile production, tacky guitar solos, etc. It must be said, the musicians here are all competent and the execution is perfect.
The pieces gathered on this compilation have remained unknown outside Japan, which seems to have pushed some music fiends (oops! collectors, one should say) to attribute a lot of value to them. Beyond this rarity, perhaps the most interesting aspect is the strange dialogue between exoticism and familiarity. The predictability of the pieces is here counterbalanced by the temporal and geographical distance that separates us from them. An old-fashioned freshness, if such a thing is possible.
More than a compilation, the pieces become the soundtrack of a success that we imagine to be above all financial. Sitting alone in front of a pair of speakers is probably not the best way to listen to city pop. The driver’s seat of a sports car tooling down a metropolitan freeway is more appropriate. In-ground swimming pools or expensive restaurants with line-ups may also offer ideal listening conditions.