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My Little Lover

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Japanese pop group My Little Lover formed in 1995 around the core membership of vocalist Akko (Akamatsu Akiko) and guitarist Fujii Kenji, with producer and keyboard player Kobayashi Takeshi joining soon after (and marrying Akko the following year). Quickly rising to national prominence, the group's sound came to be emblematic of the late-'90s J-pop sound shared with similar artists such as Every Little Thing and the Brilliant Green. My Little Lover's debut album, Evergreen, was released in 2005, and they quickly established themselves as a Top Ten act in Japan's Oricon charts, with a sound comparable to, yet softer-edged than, their more punk-influenced contemporaries Judy & Mary. Their 2006 single "Yes ~Free Flower~" reached number one and a steady flow of hit singles over the next year raised expectations for their slightly more upbeat and poppy-sounding sophomore album, Presents, which only six months later was followed by the more mature-sounding New Adventure. In 2001 My Little Lover released Topics, which saw the band shifting toward a more ballad-oriented sound. The chart positions of subsequent singles began to drop off around this time. An album of new acoustic versions of old songs, Organic was released in 2002, a year that also saw the departure of Fujii. The following year, My Little Lover embarked on their first tour before returning with a new album, Fantasy, and a best-of compilation in 2004. This would mark the end of My Little Lover in their initial form, with the group parting company with Toy's Factory and Kobayashi leaving the band to focus on his work as a producer. Akko continued as a solo artist under the My Little Lover moniker, re-emerging in 2006 on Avex Trax with the album Akko, followed by 2008's Identity. Neither album, however, was able to reclaim any of the band's late-'90s success, with chart positions rarely scraping the Top 40. ~ Ian Martin

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