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Shintaro Sakamoto

How to Live With a Phantom

(Other Music Recording Co.; US: 17 Jul 2012; UK: Import)

The pace on How to Live With a Phantom is indiepop easy listening and relaxed about it. The music never frets, just bops along with its lounge-jazz saxophone, slide guitar yawn, and a bossa nova dab, willing to sound like an earnest dork and even blow dippy bubbles in a glass during track eight, which is called “Something’s Different”. But Sakamoto was a founding member of the underground-gone-overground Tokyo psych band Yura Yura Teikoku— formed in 1989, gently dissolved 21 years later—and he pushes the songs subtly out of easy listening territory, he makes them a little too blocky, or lays on the croon a little too persistently; there’s a softly angled subterranean disturbance going on throughout. But nothing serious enough to disturb the fundamental ambiance of breeziness, moody and civil.

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