No album title could be more narcissistic than this one. “What’s My Name?” asks Miyavi (you’re expected to scream back ‘Miyavi, ahhhhhhhh’, and if possible throw out your bra). But this is no stage, this is no live album.
The Miyavi brand is there: grungy guitar and broken voice. This time he’s accompanied by a guy called Bobo, on drums, but you really don’t need to remember his name because who cares after all. He’s supposedly from another famous band, but he’s not on the CD cover, you don’t see his face in the music videos, and for all we hear of his skills, he could be a computer, really.
In this album, we find the desire for a simpler sound that Miyavi had already gone for with ‘Miyaviuta Dokusou’. In that album he was by himself, with an acoustic guitar and a gigpig drumset. It was funky; it was cheeky, provocative, and it was dangerous. At that time, Miyavi was struggling to appear more as an artist and less as an idol. And he did it, really, by shedding part of the decorum, and looking for a sound that was more primal.
It worked: “Miyaviuta Dokusou” earned him the recognition of people outside the Visual Kei sect. On the other hand, “What’s My Name” is really just a ‘look at me’ sign.
All right, so the guy likes concept albums. He likes slapping on his guitar with bluesy riffs. And he’s also a bit of a virtuoso of fusion. When he mixed his guitar with tap dancing, percussions, DJs, and beatboxing (Seven Samurai era): it worked.
At that time, you wanted to listen to the first song again, and again, before you felt ready to listen to the following track. Now you’re just suffering though the whole album once. And as a whole, it feels quite repetitive. Not everything is mediocre, of course. There are some times where your interest may perk up a bit. There are three okay songs in this album, which you may still want to purchase.
Okay, it’s still a bit jumbled, but for the first time in the album both guitar and drums aren’t too intrusive. And there is something a bit intriguing about this long progression, rhythmically inventive, going up and up and up until it just stops.
Imagine a soft, uninteresting song. It’s melancholic and repetitive. And then, suddenly, a guttural scream: “let me out!”. All right, so maybe the first scream can surprise you, but the effect is ruined for the following ones, which makes the song kind of flop from there on, in spite of Bobo’s much anticipated entrance.
Just because making a guitar sound like a computer is really not easy, when it’s played by a human hand. And it seems that just of a minute, Miyavi’s whims, sense of humor, tricky energy is back. Too bad it’s on a neurasthenic voice. A little footnote here: it’s quite amazing to see that in 10 studio albums, Miyavi’s pronunciation hasn’t improved a bit.
His diction used to be charmingly incoherent, blurted out in a hurry. Now it just sounds like he’s an old man who misplaced his dentures. My advice: take some vacation. You’ve been running around too long, touring, marrying, touring, making babies, releasing new albums, touring again; you’re exhausted and your inspiration has gone dry.
I’ll be waiting expectantly for the next album. Meanwhile :