Kurayami Monogatari

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Juice=Juice – First Squeeze! July 27, 2015

Filed under: Juice=Juice — solarblade @ 2:05 am

firstqueeze

Track Listing

CD1

  1. Ten Made Nobore!
  2. Romance no Tochuu
  3. Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne (MEMORIAL EDIT)
  4. Samidare Bijo ga Samidareru (MEMORIAL EDIT)
  5. Ijiwaru Shinaide Dakishimete yo
  6. Hajimete wo Keikenchuu
  7. Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no KISS
  8. Arekore Shitai!
  9. Black Butterfly
  10. Kaze ni Fukarete
  11. Senobi
  12. Date ja nai yo Uchi no Jinsei wa

CD2

  1. Wonderful World
  2. CHOICE & CHANCE
  3. Ai・Ai・Gasa
  4. Umaretete no Baby Love
  5. Erabareshi Watashitachi
  6. Ça va? Ça va?
  7. GIRLS BE AMBITIOUS
  8. Ai no Diving
  9. Tick-Tock Watashi no Shun
  10. Mirai e, Saa Hashiridase!
  11. Tsuzuiteiku STORY

CD3

  1. Magic of Love (J=J 2015 Ver.)
  2. Kousui (J=J 2015 Ver,)
  3. Narihajimeta Koi no BELL
  4. Scramble
  5. BABY! Koi ni KNOCK OUT!
  6. Last Kiss

1. Ten Made Nobore!

I find it strange that Juice=Juice would open their first album with their 3rd indies single (a collaboration with the trainees of Hello! Project at that).  To be honest, the song was never one of my favorites and seemed a bit strange for Juice=Juice to be a part of.  Though, hearing it with the 6 members (yes, the album features all 6 members on this one song, Aina Otsuka’s final song with the group ironically enough).  It’s alright, not the worst song of the first disc, but quite reaching that point.

2. Romance no Tochuu

Then we move into the group’s major debut, also from this point on it’s just the 5 members that we currently have.  I had curiosity about how the group would be handled after their indies era had ended.  Romance no Tochuu safely quelled my worries because this song is literally one of my favorites from the group!  It’s very disco and old H!P sounding which had quickly caught on.  Though with the short notice of Aina’s departure, it was clear that Karin was going to have a butt-ton of lines while Sayubee and Kanatomo would take the mid approach leaving Yuka and Aarii with barely any moments in the song.  Regardless, the song is pretty amazing and an epic major debut!

3. Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne (MEMORIAL EDIT)

I mean, if you had Aina in “Ten Made Nobore!” why wouldn’t you just simply put the original version of their first two indie songs at the beginning?  It just baffles me.  The MEMORIAL EDITs of the two indie songs added some new parts on top of the fact the lines had to be redistributed.  What we ended up was something familiar but not quite as good as the original sadly.  The bridge was what took me out of this version and just simply felt REALLY out of place in the entirety of the song.  To be honest, I’ll probably just remove this and make this tracklist right on iTunes XD.

4. Samidare Bijo ga Samidareru (MEMORIAL EDIT)

At least the revisioned Samidare Bijo ga Samidareru ended up being slightly better than the original (not counting the lack of Aina of course).  Like the previous track, lines were redistributed and the song added some new parts which actually FIT the song we’re talking about.  Samidare Bijo ga Samidareru was a more rockin’ affair in comparison to “Watashi ga Iu…’s” more dance-centric style which still showed off a pretty cool side to their music.  Despite the fact that these changes were going to happen even if Aina hadn’t left, I felt this revision was handled better overall and the energy was still pretty much on fire!  Pretty cool overall.

5. Ijiwaru Shinaide Dakishimete yo

After leaving the messy major debut, we finally starting calming down with the next track and that’s Ijiwaru Shinaide Dakishimete yo and to be honest, it’s a bit like “Romance no Tochuu” with a little less brass power.  It’s still a pretty solid song with a pretty cool groove and sound to it.  It’s really more like the aforementioned song due to the line distribution and all, but it’s a good song still.

6. Hajimete wo Keikenchuu

Wondering what we’d get for our first 2nd A-side (I don’t count the memorial edits as new songs), Hajimete wo Keikenchuu was a bit of a switch-up for the group as we have only known them to really be a cool and stylish group (not counting “Ten Made Nobore!” because that’s more of a Kenshuusei song).  I do like the guitars that are playing in the background to give a more full sound, but the bigger surprise is that Akari and Yuka have the focus here while the remaining members tend to be more of the 2nd most which is awesome since neither of the first two have made strides in vocal appearances since their debut.  For their first cutesy love song, I pretty much enjoyed it a lot!!!

7. Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no KISS

Then came 2014 and the group really went through some experimentation in their songs.  Starting with Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no KISS, I wasn’t expecting a full Latin charge (ala to Momusu’s “Iroppoi Jirettai”).  For such a strong and quick song we got, I thought the group managed to pull it off well and it exudes quite a lot of sexiness (which might be strange for such a young group) but they were good with this one.

8. Arekore Shitai!

So just like the last single, the secondary A-side was leaning towards more of a cuter side to the group and we find ourselves with a much even line distribution for the group.  Though I can’t say that I was too big of a fan of this song unfortunately.  I’m not entirely sure why I don’t care about this song, but there’s something that didn’t work for it unlike in “Hajimete wo Keikenchuu” and there’s some similarities between the two too…damn…

9. Black Butterfly

So two Spanish music style in two A-sides?  Yeah, Black Butterfly took a tango route this time and when it came out, I was a little confused on how to feel.  I do love the arrangement (cept for the eh chorus), Tomoko and Karin sound REALLY good in such a minimal arrangement and it’s just such a mysterious sounding song all in itself.  Though like I mentioned above, the chorus is kind of where the song falls flat for me because it’s loud and most of it consists of the title being sung so it’s really blah.  Still overall, it’s a decent song and a style that’s rarely tackled in H!P.

10. Kaze ni Fukarete

Next up is the secondary A-side from the single and it’s the uptempo Irish-y dance song lol!  I actually love this song a lot more than I did with “Black Butterfly” because it’s really what the group does best is dance tracks that are a little more serious and less playful/sexy.  Great beat and the group sounds amazing (though I still do wince sometimes with Sayuki’s lines).  Overall one of the best songs from the first disc if it wasn’t for…

11. Senobi

As the final single closes the first disc (wait, what?), Senobi as the primary A-side was really out of nowhere (literally was announced shortly after “Black Butterfly/Kaze ni Fukarete” was released.  So I was surprised to think that this was their first actual EDM song and boy was it a strong song.  A lot of cool effects, the dubstep wasn’t stupidly placed, the quintet sounded great (especially Sayubee) and just ended 2014 on a high note for me!

12. Date ja nai yo Uchi no Jinsei wa

Then we get this song which sounds like a nice throwback to “Romance no Tochuu” with the kind of funky arrangement and peppy brass that we’ve grown to enjoy.  Initially, being the other A-side to “Senobi” I was more entranced by the latter’s EDM sound more than the familiar funk sound that came with this one.  After some time with it, the song is pretty awesome in its own right despite Sayuki once again trying a little too hard on the vocals.  Beyond that, it was a nice song with good enough line distribution to get by.  Maybe not the best song to end the first disc, but it makes sense.

CD2

1. Wonderful World

Though I’m curious to why the “Wonderful World/Ça va? Ça va?” single is on the 2nd disc (full of new songs, mind you…maybe it’s just because it’s the only 2015 single they’ve released prior to the album, though that would’ve meant “Erabareshi Watashitachi” also should’ve been on CD1 since they’ve been performing it for so long).  Anyways, CD2 begins with Wonderful World which I was definitely not impressed with.  Like “Arekore Shitai!” it’s a little too overbearing with the cute vibes and the group themselves sound odd (looking at you Tomoko!).  Though I do love hearing Yuka and Akari more in line with the 3 other members, so it’s a small good thing, otherwise…just too sugary for me.

2. CHOICE & CHANCE

Then we get a bunch of new songs!  The first song up is actually one of two that were chosen to promote the album!  I was happy we got this one because this is a banger!  It has a LOT of punch to it and makes the group really sound cool (though I’m not sure if I agree on the vocal filters being used on some girls (it’s REALLY apparant on Akari, Tomoko, and Yuka).  Still, the song is really cool and while H!P is slowly moving away from EDM, this stands as one of the better tracks introduced.

3. Ai・Ai・Gasa

Next up is the rather sparkly song Ai・Ai・Gasa and it starts off nice and shows a cuter side (not as sugary as “Wonderful World” mind you) but it’s still kind of nice.  I hate to say it though, but the chorus is kind of where I got annoyed with the whole ~ai-ya ai-ya ai-ya ai-ya ai-ya gasa~…they repeat that a little too much for my liking and made the chorus fail where the verses won me over.  It’s just kind of in the middle of the road for me.

4. Umaretate no Baby Love

Moving on, Umaretate no Baby Love is next and this one threw me for a loop.  It reminded me a lot of a Taiyou to Ciscomoon song, “Magic of Love” (ironiiiiiiiiiic).  It’s a nice discotheque kind of song and the band is pretty exciting to listen to, but it could’ve been a 2011 song for all we know hahaha.  It’s not the most intriguing song for me so it kind of flew over my head.

5. Erabareshi Watashitachi

Jeeze, it took forever to finally have a studio version to listen to.  Of the new songs, it seems this is the only Tsunku song on here which is surprising, but yet not at the same time.  Erabareshi Watashitachi was first performed last year in lives and since then had been hiding until now and for good reason because it’s a REALLY solid song!  It has a bit of an edgier sound and the guitarwork is pretty cool too!  Pretty amazing song overall and just caught my interest quickly!

6. Ça va? Ça va?

Then just randomly, this A-side is placed in the middle of the album (very strange).  Luckily, this song is still a favorite of mine this year.  The mix of surfer rock and French pop is unusual, but very welcome to H!P after the oversaturation the company had.  I’m loving the kind of frisky sound it has and the group is just sounding really pleasant.  Even Karin’s ~Je’taime bien~ line is just ADORABLE.  It’s a cool song though and hope to see more of this unique style to them with future A-sides.

7. GIRLS BE AMBITIOUS

Not to be confused with GREEN FIELDS song of the similar name (hmm yet Yuka is in both groups) nevermind that!  This song is definitely something I could’ve seen Buono! pulling off easily with it’s fun rock arrangement and yet some of the song reminds me of that Jet song, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”, but that could just be me.  It’s a loud song and the girls wasn’t particularly worried about meshing together and it sort of shows.  It sounds perfect for live performances, though as a studio song…eh?

8. Ai no Diving

Next song, I really wasn’t sure what to think of it.  Like the arrangement is pretty much all over the place (verse-wise) and the chorus is no better.  I mean there’s some cool effects like the synthwork and the fact once again, it would make a great live (with a live band).  Otherwise, this song kind of just fell rather flat for me.

9. Tick-Tock Watashi no Shun

Another cutesy song appears next as well and it got worse.  It felt like the arrangement was done wrong because there’s like NOT ENOUGH bass and the effects from that point sounded REALLY cheap to me.  I mean the group sounds good and can do cute if they did it right, but this kind of cutesy anime tone doesn’t work and the arrangement is just in the shitter…pass.

10. Mirai e, Saa Hashiridase!

After all the odd songs, it’s nice to get Mirai e, Saa Hashiridase!  I will say that it does feel like a pop song and an ending song mixed together and I approve of that because it just has a nice wrapping up feel.  Plus it helps they do chant the group name in the afterchorus XD.  Might not be at the same stretch of greats like “CHOICE & CHANCE” and “Erabareshi Watashitachi” but it’s decent!

11. Tsuzuiteiku STORY

So the other song chosen to promote the album is ironically the first ballad they’ve done (not counting the stageplay they did).  It’s a pretty standard ballad from H!P, but luckily it keeps my interest with the sitar plucking in the arrangement, without it…it could’ve been really vanilla and forgetful, but the vocals are quite nice as well…decent way to close out disc 2 (though “Mirai e, Saa Hashiridase!” would’ve fared better).

CD3

1. Magic of Love (J=J 2015 Ver.)

So Disc 3 is all about covers of older H!P songs (sad there’s only 6).  First is Magic of Love and I think a lot of their fans expected it because they’ve performed it soooo many times since their debut.  Yeah, so despite “Umaretate no Baby Love” taking some melodies out of this one, this is a pretty awesome song (though nothing could really surpass the original).  I actually have to say, Sayubee just kicked ass in this song and I loved it.  The changes to the song is pretty minimal besides the arrangement getting updated…still awesome song!

2. Kousui (J=J 2015 Ver.)

Just like the previous track, this cover song also got a slightly updated arrangement.  Tackling Melon Kinenbi’s big song, Kousui is a song I was never too into, but this new version is at least decent (maybe a bit over arranged xD).  The quintet sound nice though and Kanatomo was the one that stood out for me the most…dang!

3. Narihajimeta Koi no BELL

So the next two covers’ arrangements were not changed hence no version behind the titles.  I LOVE the original from Ongaku Gatas and was surprised Juice=Juice was going to tackle it.  Overall it’s actually not that bad and the group has the same power and energy about it (though the ~aaaaaaa~ parts are still a bit wince-inducing, sorry Tomoko xD).  Still this was probably my favorite of the covers.

4. Scramble

Funny enough, I’m not too familiar with Maki Goto’s original take but I do know her voice well enough.  Having a 5-member group tackle this is pretty interesting and they didn’t do too bad, though I had to really go by just this version so I’m not too certain how it compares to Gocchin’s (probably not AS good as Maki’s but eh). It’s solid.

5. BABY! Koi ni KNOCK OUT!

The final two cover tracks have our group split up into more groupings!  Starting with this Petitmoni cover that has only Yuka, Akari, and Tomoko at the reins and it’s a little strange.  If there was any point on this album where I thought Yuka and Akari didn’t sound right, this song might just be that one.  I mean they aren’t weak by any means, but this song might’ve been just a bit too rough on them and Tomoko while a great singer…also didn’t seem to suit this song either.  It just didn’t roll well for me as much as the Yasuda/Goto/Yoshizawa version did.

6. Last Kiss

Finally, we have the Tanpopo cover of Last Kiss sung by the remaining two members, Sayuki and Karin.  While it’s going to rough already trying to be better than the original of Iida/Ishiguro/Yaguchi, I would say this is a nice version regardless.  I do think Karin’s more higher register doesn’t seem to gel much to the arrangement, but Sayubee rather impressed me here…maybe not at the same levels as the 3 mentioned above, but she held her own.  Overall a nice cover.

Tracks Recommended

  • Romance no Tochuu
  • Senobi
  • Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no KISS
  • Kaze ni Fukarete
  • Ijiwaru Shinaide Dakishimete yo
  • CHOICE & CHANCE
  • Erabareshi Watashitachi
  • Ça va? Ça va?
  • Last Kiss
  • Mirai e, Saa Hashiridase!

Song of Avoidance

  • Arekore Shitai!
  • Tick-Tock Watashi no Shun

Wow it seemed like forever until we finally got our first album from Juice=Juice.  I was surprised at how packed it was to the brim with songs (which is most of their current discography).  When it comes to the first disc, well it’s songs that we fans have known since their debut and most of it was pretty strong, of course they’re all A-side quality with a couple of misses here and there.  The 2nd disc was what most people were excited for because besides the 2015 single, that whole disc was never before heard songs.  Sadly I think I was hoping too much for this disc.  Minus 3 rather impressive songs, the others felt lacking and kind of forgettable.  Finally, the 3rd disc isn’t really much to gawk at…good covers, but definitely not as good as their originals.  Overall strong album with a lot of variety…Now I just want to see what’s next for the quintet!

 

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