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Review

Released just after the death of Zard's longtime star and stalwart Izumi Sakai, Brezza di Mare was a compilation meant to collect some of the numerous hits Zard had over the previous two decades that weren't covered on the related Golden Best compilation. This is Zard at their finest over the years, a perfect example of a musical style in time: Japanese pop in the '80s. The music is in turns dramatic and melodramatic, always grandiose beyond its shiny packaging. There may be a primary melodic voice, but at each refrain, a full chorus is enlisted to add some bulk to the sound. Electronic drumkits and synthesizers proliferate throughout the music, dating the sound in conjunction with the amplified saxophones. There are tiny inklings of the sounds that would come to be major players in the renaissance of Japanese pop a decade or two later: a hint of ska in the riffs of "Kimi Ga Inai," a touch of rock in the backing tracks of other pieces. Throughout it all is singer Sakai, with a soft and caressing vocal style and a simple approach to her deliveries. Zard not only falls somewhat within the stereotypes of J-pop aesthetics, but were the ones setting those stereotypes; the initiators. Brezza di Mare does a good job of showing off their legacy, and showcasing the vocals of Sakai in particular. ~ Adam Greenberg, Rovi

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