Album Review: Chara - Sympathy (2017)

Watabiki Miwa aka Chara
Source: chara-web.net
Watabiki Miwa—much better known as Chara—just celebrated over 25 years as an established artist. I have written extensively about her work here and will continue to chronicle and review her discography in future posts. However, I couldn't resist the opportunity to review her latest album Sympathy, released earlier this week. 

Although Chara will be 50 next year, and has spent almost half her life in the music industry, I believe Sympathy is indelible proof that her sound remains fresh and innovative. Sympathy includes some obvious weak links, but the star tracks shine through and demand several repeats, which makes this bittersweet album a whimsical summer gem. 

Sympathy (2017)
Source: musicman-net.com
While her sound has evolved and gone through many phases of experimentation through the years, one thing I love about Chara is that she's always unmistakably herself and never fails to be daring with her work. Sympathy is clearly a sensual album, a rare theme to spot in the work of a Japanese artist of Chara's generation. 

However, love and sensuality has been a running theme in Chara's work from her flirty, borderline exhibitionist early-90s days to her now more refined sultriness. Occasionally paired with her other common theme of innocences, this album serves romance on a wide, delectable gradient. To use an example from Chara's discography, this album is as if Madrigal (2001) had a baby with Chara's 2010s sound. There is a funky playfulness here that is hard to miss. 

Naturally, perfection is unattainable, so let's start with the weaker tracks in the album.


Trippin' Out at the Seoul Trickeye Museum

Although they're getting visibly old, the paintings at Trick Eye Museum Seoul are gorgeous!
When you're an adult, it's refreshing to visit places that make you feel like a kid again. I'd say the best place to do that in Seoul is the Trickeye Museum. 

"I'm a genie in a bottle~"
With locations in major cities like Singapore, Hong Kong, and Phuket, the Trickeye Museum features numerous brilliantly painted sets where you can take fun pictures. As the name suggests, the sets play tricks on the eye. With the use of simple props and the extension of the paintings from the wall to the floor, visitors will have a blast posing for Instagram worthy photos. 

Some of the illusions require a bit of mild contortion to pull off (i.e., crouching and laying on the floor), but mosts guests will find the majority of the exhibitions accessible to them.