Music: The Town Crier of Weird

A winning eccentric plays musical tag along the Pacific Rim

A Yankee abroad in Tokyo sends in this musical report: "I spoke of my love for MacArthur/ The man not the park in L.A./ 'But you're so much older!' she covered her shoulder/ And I heard her say with a sigh/ 'A soldier may never say die!' "

That lyric, with its cross-cultural elisions and unsprung rhythms stashed inside orchestrations belonging more to Sondheim than Springsteen, is from Tokyo Rose, an elfin but savage ten-song essay on the growing misalliance of Japan and America. The record is not only big themed, it is big fun. That combination of intellectual ambition and...