From the pursuit of upward mobility to the stain of capitalism on relationships, Alessandro Takeshi’s We Could Be Friends is a blissfully incisive piano-pop record.
Alessandro Takeshi has released his debut album, We Could Be Friends. An experimental examination of stagnating economies, the eight-song collection kicks off with the title track.
Led by old-timey instrumentation befitting of a jazzy speakeasy, We Could Be Friends is a rich tapestry of twinkling piano keys and fairytale strings, as punctuated by Takeshi’s backing doo-wop melodies.
Tackling everything from mortality to transactional relationships, the album opener squeezes complex themes into its otherwise-resplendent soundscape. “I hope you’re writing your whole life off as a business expense,” Takeshi sings in scat-like vocals. “Don’t you know the King lives on credit?”.
This exploration of money and how it bleeds into relationships is further explored on second track Game Theory, which derives its title from a common concept in economics. Here, Takeshi recounts a gamified relationship defined by power plays. Again, the singer disguises these themes amid Game Theory’s decidedly upbeat tune, which makes use of pure pop structures and Takeshi’s blissful vocal delivery.
Virtuosic piano underpins much of the album’s sound, though Takeshi is equally comfortable enlisting an eclectic palette of percussion and electric guitar. This diversity excels on Coffee, which is led by the kind of catchy keys you might hear on an Elton John record, as well as the subtle twang of finger-picked strings. Takeshi envisions himself an EGOT-winner, before lamenting the reality of these coffee-induced fancies.
Veering toward rock opera on The Man Who Loves You, Takeshi adopts an anthemic vocal delivery, with an ever-changing sonic cadence that ranges from screechy guitars to all-out piano balladry. Perhaps Takeshi’s most incisive take on capitalism, fifth track Rat Race sees the singer reflect on the regrets that come with the pursuit of upward mobility. “Just another rat race veteran,” he croons, “I ain’t proud of who I had to be.”
Slowing down proceedings on interlude Long Time No See, the singer recalls an estranged relationship atop brooding piano and swelling cymbals, before heading to folk territory on A Reactionary Year. Here, Takeshi harmonises alongside triumphant percussion and leisurely vocal adlibs. A sense of closure arrives on final track Today, which sees Takeshi ruminate on nihilism and relent to the unchangeability of the world.
“Maybe there ain’t no difference that we can make,” he laments, “a world of troubles, a world of shame.” With a poetic lyricism belied by Takeshi’s commitment to a nostalgic vision of pop, Today is a fitting closer to We Could Be Friends, as proven by the track’s climactic bridge that bleeds into a slow-tempo outro.
Speaking of the album’s message in a press statement, Takeshi said We Could Be Friends documents capitalism and the economy as an “ambient unease that permeates our way of thinking, how we imagine ourselves, and how we build relationships with each other as the horizon contracts.”
We Could Be Friends serves as the follow up to Takeshi’s 2021 album Songs About Cars, with his debut project, To and Fro, arriving in 2019. Listen to Alessandro Takeshi’s new album below, and head here to find out more information about the singer.