Arlene Hattori

Arlene Hattori

Arlene Hattori

Finding Myself Again

Once you hear the synth breaks of the funk-pop number “Give It Up,” Japanese-American singer/songwriter Arlene Hattori’s musical background becomes apparent. You won’t be able to tell from the cover photo and booklet design. No, the truth is in the music — and “Give It Up” reveals all. Hattori is a new wave vocalist at heart, and “Give It Up” is deliciously retro with its danceable riffs and innocent little girl singing. By the time the remix of “When I Looked Into Your Eyes” appears, the guilty fingerprints of ’80s appreciation are in clear view. But, unlike some of the youthful neo-new wave acts today, Hattori isn’t trying to sound like she’s from the era. She is from that time period, and that makes all of the difference. This is authentic new wave. Hattori has a cute, childlike voice (think Rachel Sweet) that is made for the ’80s-styled production on this record.

Finding Myself Again is the perfect summer album, loaded with upbeat and relaxing rhythms that capture the innocuous, laidback vibrations of mid-’80s new wave — somewhere between Strawberry Switchblade and Suzanne Vega. “Thank You for Being My Friend” touches the ears with the kind of positive, gentle messages that went out of style once dark grunge moved in. Check out Hattori’s heartfelt singing on “Right Thing”; her voice is soulful and fragile, capturing the emotions of the lyrics without going overboard like so many vocalists nowadays. The moody “Frustrated Maryann” brings back the days of ’80s mope rock, but with gorgeous harmonizing that makes it timeless.

My CD player has been saturated with countless ’80s retro acts lately; however, Hattori distinguishes herself from the pack by unapologetically not having any modern touches whatsoever. Bless her.

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