The ever-effervescent Japanese duo Pizzicato Five is back with yet anotheralbum chock full of kitschy goodness. Elements of lounge, cabaret, and retro60s TV-show theme songs abound once again, but what is so impressive about P5'slatest foray is the arrangements and orchestrations of real instruments asopposed to the band's usual heavy reliance on samples (although of these thereis no shortage!). Horns, strings, piano and woodwinds artfully accompany livedrums and guitar, producing a much more sophisticated all-over sound comparedto previous efforts. The tempo is upbeat and rousing for most of the songs,and either sexy, funky, trippy, or frenetically paced ("Tout, Tout Pour MaCherie" is borderline techno anthem); although the last handful of songs have amuch more laid-back vibe. Additionally, two of the songs, "Darlin' ofDiscotheque" and "A Perfect World (Album Version)" are actually remixes of twoother tracks on the album ("Wild Strawberries" and "A Perfect World,"respectively). As much as I've always loved Pizzicato Five, one issue withtheir music has often been the hit-or-miss quality of the albums: one half ofthe songs on a record will be impeccable, but the other somewhat weak. Fifth puts anend to this trend with consistently good production and songwriting.