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The Japan Times lauds Phùng Khánh Linh's new album "CITOPIA"

The Japan Times has complimented Vietnamese singer Phung Khanh Linh for her latest album ‘Citopia,’ which embraced city pop, a popular urban Japanese sound from the 1980s.

"Her second album ‘CITOPIA’ featured 10 songs with clear connections to city pop," The Japan Times said. "There’s a distinct funk and disco strut on the more upbeat tracks, while slower numbers nod to hazy works like Tomoko Aran’s ‘Midnight Pretenders’. Sax solos add extra zazz, while Linh herself swings between Friday night optimism and Monday morning sorrow through her vocals."

It took Linh six months to complete "CITOPIA". She recorded the album in Nashville, US and collaborated with Grammy-nominated producer Steven Wilson, engineer Josh Frigo and saxophone player Jovan Quallo, to name a few. The name of the album refers to a fictional city that Linh created, where the sounds and movements of life aim for perfection after loss and trauma.

"For all of the nods to nostalgia and internet culture, ‘CITOPIA’ isn’t simply an exercise in re-creating a digital trend. There’s a deeper concept at work," the newspaper wrote.

The idea of the album came last year when Linh lost her beloved cat during the tough Covid-19 pandemic, and she found comfort in the nostalgic sound of city pop.

"I turned to those sounds around the start of this year, and listening to them made me feel really inspired during this time, especially albums from Mariya Takeuchi and Anri. I knew that nobody in contemporary Vietnamese music had ever released an entire album themed around city pop. It was also a strategic way of finding a unique way of expressing my music," Linh told The Japan Times.

Phung Khanh Linh, 28, first emerged onto the scene as a contestant on the talent show The Voice of Vietnam in 2015. Her single, "Hom Nay Toi Buon" (I’m Blue Today) was a career-breakthrough, garnering over 72 million views on YouTube over three years. "Citopia" is Linh’s second studio album. Her 2020 debut album "Yesteryear" sold 3,000 copies during its release.

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