I stumbled into Cheapo yesterday, and instead of picking up yet another Sterolab or Saint Etienne album, I decided to look into something new, and grabbed An Illustrated History, a best-of compilation from J-Pop duo Puffy Ami Yumi. After all, the sticker on the front warned me to “prepare for the Puffy Ami Yumi invasion,” and since I wasn’t in a store where I could stock up on canned foods and ammo, I figured a CD was the safest bet.

Puffy Ami Yumi has gained a little notoriety in the U.S. recently by recording the theme to the “Teen Titans” cartoon show, but thankfully, not all of their stuff sounds like “Secret Agent Man” channeled through Shonen Knife. Like all Shibuya-Kei artists, Puffy plays mix-and-match with various pop styles, while assiduously avoiding outright parody or kitsch. Unlike the complex pastiches of Cornelius or Konishi Yasuharu, though, they seem to prefer to play things relatively straight, actually performing songs from beginning to end without deconstructing them halfway through. Which is not to say they aren’t interested in being clever; half the fun of listening to An Illustrated History is playing Spot the Reference, as they appropriate styles (and hooks) from various sources (the Beatles, the Village People, Herb Alpert) and run them through a J-Pop filter to come up with a sound that’s as enjoyable as it is odd.