Oomori Seiko forces me to really question how I approach music in 2015. The look — at least in the bulk of music-centric online circles — is to reject the idea of “authenticity,” lest you be considered a snob. I’ve mostly embraced that, but the reason I like Seiko is because she seems to truly be doing her. She writes and performs the bulk of her own music, she seems pretty uncompromising and she says things that would not fly in other contexts (and the can of worms of her climbing out of Koenji’s music scene to get to Avex remains). She also makes really good, really interesting stuff, and made my favorite Japanese album of last year. You really, really want to believe in some artists, and hope they can keep just being themselves in all their shrieking wonder.
“Magic Mirror” is the first song to emerge from Seiko’s solo world since last year (she released an album with her band The Pink Tokarev earlier this year that’s OK, but the rock background takes a bit away from everything that makes her so interesting, even if her voice still wows. Guess she really has studied Sheen Ringo). And oh, she’s still spinning off in her wonky orbit. “Magic Mirror” is one of the more dramatic songs she’s released since joining a major label — it starts off all jaunty and features some wispy electronic touches, over which Seiko does her best vocals somersaults, her vocals cracking numerous times. Then the song starts cracking too, a crash of noise, some manic talking, radio shortcircuiting. It tries to regain itself but never really does, instead just trying to push through its own breakdown. It’s a Disney musical number unwilling to perk up.