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New Michiyo Honda: “Paradise Lost”

As the year draws to a close, so does Michiyo Honda’s “single a month” project, wherein she released a new single each month (all of which can be had on iTunes). It was a great little experiment responsible for a lot of great music – the light electro-pop of “Just 200 Years In Prison,” the twinkling “Your Voice,” the neon-accented come-ons of “GAME BOYZ” – but save for a few twists, Honda honed in on making dance music, throbbing floor fillers. She does them well, but if there was one easy criticism of this “one song every 30 days” business is you could make a pretty good guess of what sort of track would pop up next, and it would sound nice in a club.

“Paradise Lost” isn’t a dance track, and sounds unlike anything else Honda’s released in 2011. It’s a ballad, one where Honda sets her electronics to whirring and needles piano through it. The real star of this song, though, is Honda’s voice, for the first time this year getting nudged into center stage and not just carrying “Paradise Lost” but transforming it into one of her best efforts to date. She sounds great but she’s also not afraid of messing with her singing – at various points, she alters her singing via electronics, an effect that makes this more compelling than a regular ballad. She also has story structure down – the opening is calm, and then tension comes in via those massive drum hits and it all leads to a climax which…well, I won’t spoil the surprise, but after the light ennui of what comes before it feels like sun breaking into a solitary confinement chamber. She saved one of her best for last.