Essential New Music: Shintaro Sakamoto’s “Love If Possible”

Knowing that a musician spent more than two decades in a band is a good way of telling that they have their stuff figured out. That’s the case with Shintaro Sakamoto, who led the Tokyo psych-pop trio Yura Yura Teikoku until 2010. Since then, Sakamoto has released a collection of artwork and a string of solo albums, the newest of which continues his journey to the center of his classic pop-addled mind. Mining influences from ’70s R&B, folk and early electronica, Sakamoto serves as ringleader and gatekeeper to a plush revisionist history on Love If Possible. He coos over a skeletal rhythm on “Another Planet” and shuffles slyly through “Feeling Immortal.” Sakamoto evokes other retro-minded bands and artists as much as the original artifacts: “Disco Is” features a nonchalant Stereolab vibe, while the title track uses flourishes on loan from Todd Terje or Mayer Hawthorne. Love If Possible is a delightful confection, and Sakamoto keeps it just the right amount of sweet.

—Eric Schuman