The emotionally raw pop-rock tunes Chiba-born artist Yuuri introduced at the start of the 2020s changed the course of J-pop. Following the smash success of the aching breakup ballad “Dried Flower” and 2022’s Ichi, Yuuri became a national source of inspiration for stripped-down authenticity. But he explored fresh lyrical and sonic forms on his second album, Ni, adding depth to his sincere songs while showcasing his musical chops. On his 2023 release, Yuuri explores metaphor and storytelling more than on the straight-from-life diary entries of Ichi. “Billimillion” tells the story of a mysterious old man offering the young protagonist outrageous sums of money for his remaining years. Over a rollicking rock backdrop, Yuuri’s character rejects the offer in favor of experiencing the ups and downs of life. Love remains a central topic on the LP, but Yuuri gets creative in its presentation. “The day we become eternal love,not lovers” uses lyrical repetition with minor changes to portray the arc of a relationship. “Galileo falls in love” uses extended astronomy references to emphasize longing. The bulk of Ni sticks to the acoustic balladry Yuuri is known for. Yet, he’s also branching out into uptempo pop. “Lyra” explores themes of disappointment touched on by contemporaries SEKAI NO OWARI and Ado over a funk-pop broadside. “Time Machine” finds Yuuri picking up the pace, and on “Astronauts,” he shoots for surging arena rock on a song about missing family. On his sophomore album, Yuuri shows more range without losing any heart.

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