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New Zombie-Chang: “Mona Lisa”

Zombie-Chang constructs an offbeat world in her music, but the foundation of that comes from the past. “Mona Lisa,” off of an album coming out this week (geez is this year zooming by….), reminds of the artists that she draws influence from, while allowing her room to splash her own personality into it. Really, just peer back to early and mid-’80s Japanese music — “techno-pop” for a wide, often not accurate term, encompassing everything from Akiko Yano to Halmens to P-Model — and you can find ideas that Zombie-Chang is riffing on here, from the machine-generated music pushing everything forward to the half-winked male backing vocals. “Mona Lisa” is a shambling pop number, but it also allows plenty of space for Zombie-Chang to flex her oddball lyricism and singing voice, the latter in particular vital to this song and her whole catalog (put her on the growing list of “artists with less-than-polished voices who make that a big plus”). And at a moment where a lot of artists in Japan are trying out more serious (or at least serious-sounding) looks, it’s nice to here some silly escapism. Listen above.