Introducing the third full-length album release from Tokyo’s Ladonna Rama, Animals brings through the unmistakable sound of already released hits Stuck in the Groove and Zentai Suit, plus an array of brand new tracks that help further secure the artist’s role within the alternative electro-pop realm.
Kicking into gear with the inescapable weight of a rising bass-line and beat, the album’s title-track sets the pace with an increasingly full and immersive soundscape of ambient detail and cinematic escapism. Slowly but surely weave in those eighties-esque Vogue-like vocal fragments, dashes of industrial rhythm, and some hauntingly warped, sci-fi-style verse lines, and the whole thing sets the late-night dancefloor scene in a notably distorted, stylistically unpredictable way.
In stark contrast conceptually, the track Sharon Says No veers away from club life and lust to tackle the issue of mob mentality and political correctness. The voice is still familiar, the lyrics fairly simply and surface-level in their approach – feeling like a Facebook readthrough of opinions and names. ‘None of this is real…’
Scream Louder follows and here the beat takes a fresh direction, more outwardly separating itself from an otherwise familiar playlist that would, in and of itself, provide an interesting yet somewhat comfortable hour for the all-night scene.
Then there’s the suddenly synth-soaked brightness and energy of an aptly-titled Move Your Body to further the addictive pounding of rhythm, melody and uninhibited social interaction. Another nod to the eighties pops up both musically and lyrically – one for the nostalgia fans out there.
During the album’s latter half, Dirty Mirror tells the story of pot-kettle-style judgements in every-day life. Mix in a heavy soundscape and beat, with more than a few enjoyably creative intricacies, and this one soon envelops and embraces listeners with its weight and warmth. A definite highlight production-wise for how all-consuming the completed track is.
A final highlight from the project is a track called Fragile, one that again tackles the deeper topics – male fragility, insecurity, paranoia. Musically this one builds up in an orchestral fashion, really injecting a whole new level of versatility into the project; and just in time. A personal favourite for the melodic riffs and the powerful unity between euphoric sound-design and conceptual depth. Featuring dashes of organic harp, this one lights up the artistry of the project at the penultimate moment; and still manages to relevantly feed into the whole Ladonna Rama style and sound.
Also featuring some striking artwork, depicting Ladonna Rama as ‘a queer alien zentai underground anti-heroine, emerging from an amorphous meaty forest’, Animals is every bit as creatively experimental and free from the confines of expectation as you’d hope. It makes for a refreshing alt-pop listen.