Puffy – Nice

Epic/Sony ESCL-2357

Sometimes you just gotta be in the mood.
I think I spun Puffy’s new one (well, newish one) about three times—twice at home, once in the car, where things are different—but didn’t think much of it. It was like their last album—The Hit Parade—full of the usual Puffy pep, but running in circles. Now, suddenly, when I’ve thrown it on while I do some work, it has jumped out at me. I keep stopping and thinking, where did this come from? Have I really owned this since May? The secret to any good Puffy album is how well Tamio Okuda and the girls’ other producer songwriters are doing, and this time Andy Sturmer producers and brings along some great stuff. The opening track “Red Swing” lifts from Jeff Lynne, but that wouldn’t be the first time. By the time you realize the theft, they’re onto a bit of Buggles (“Tokyo Nights”) and some Madness-style ska (“K2G”), and that banjo-fueled pop folk that occasionally turns up in their music kitchen (“Shiawase”). And that’s not to mention their best single in ages, which came out in 2001 and jumped an album to appear here, “Atarashii Hibi,” a joyous little romp, full of power chords and a twirling organ-led hook. Nice, indeed.

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