Yaida Hitomi: Here today-gone tomorrow

Five years ago when I began exploring Japan’s music scene, I got behind Yaida Hitomi as fervently as I did Cocco and Shiina Ringo.

Yaida started out quite maniacally — her exuberent debut daiya-monde burst out with a confidence that was infectous as it was exhilirating. And the listening public in Japan agreed — Yaida catapulted to the top of the charts.

As she released subsequent albums, it seemed like she catered more and more to pop tastes, toning down the exuberence and smoothing out the rough edges. She worked with the same backing band and producers — a unit named Diamond Head, after the signature volcanic landmark in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi — for four albums, and she got into rut.

The two years she took to write and record Here today-gone tomorrow perhaps indicates she recognized it too.

Although still working with the members of Diamond Head — credited not as a unit, but individually — Yaida seems to etching out some new directions, while recapturing the pump of her early work.

Here today-gone tomorrow still very much appeals to the pop sense but not at the expense of creative writing.

“Chapter02” and “Mawaru Sora” sound like your usual anthemic Yaiko singles. And yet somehow, the wordless chants of the chorus on “Mawaru Sora” feel new. Her voice certainly soars at that point.

As the album progresses, Yaida songs take on different hues than previous albums. The dark tone of “Gatsu wo Miteita” sounds reminiscent of Achtung Baby-era U2. “Not a Period” dives head long into her Celtic interests, almost calling to mind Kate Bush’s exploration into the same music on The Dreaming.

The instrumental “believe or doubt” goes for a harder sound, while “Marble-Iro no Hi” leaves room for a more whimsical mood.

Other songs feel like familiar Yaiko terrain, but they’re performed with a swagger not seen since her second album. “Nanairo Pierrot” feels reminiscent of “B’coz I love you”, while the bouncy “Kanojo no Riyuu” feels busy without being overcrowded.

“Biru wo Miorosu Okujoo de” gives the album a conclusive feel, which throws off the fact two additional tracks follow. It’s probably the only stumbling block on the album.

Here today–gone tommorow is an impressive return to form. Yaida finally manages to address her loyal pop audience while making the kind of creative leaps her early work demonstrated.