- Kibouteki Refrain
- Ima, Happy (Baragumi) (Type-A & Theater edition only)
- Juujun na Slave (Team A) (Type-A only)
- Ambulance (Yurigumi) (Type-B only)
- Hajimete no Drive (Team K) (Type-B only)
- Utaitai (Cattleya-gumi) (Type-C only)
- Loneliness Club (Team B) (Type-C only)
- Seifuku no Hane (Team 8) (Type-D only)
- Me wo Aketa Mama no First Kiss (Team 4) (Type-D only)
- Kaze no Rasen (Kojizaka48) (Type-D only)
- Reborn (Team Surprise) (Theater edition only)
- Kibouteki Refrain off vocal ver.
- Ima, Happy off vocal ver.
- Juujun na Slave off vocal ver.
- Ambulance off vocal ver.
- Hajimete no Drive off vocal ver.
- Utaitai off vocal ver.
- Loneliness Club off vocal ver.
- Seifuku no Hane off vocal ver.
- Me wo Aketa Mama no First Kiss off vocal ver.
- Kaze no Rasen off vocal ver.
- Reborn off vocal ver.
1. Kibouteki Refrain
Another upbeat A-side huh AKB? At least the energy from Kibouteki Refrain is nice enough and the girls sound melodically stronger when singer together. I do feel this anison-esque arrangement to be popping for me and the chorus is actually decent here with the call/response style. Though I could say it slightly reminds me of “Heavy Rotation” although not as exciting. Still, with the other A-sides of this era, this is actually pretty good otherwise.
2. Ima, Happy
Seems like the B-sides this time brings out the -gumi groups and Teams, splitting them between the multiple editions. First is the Baragumis and Ima, Happy is pretty cutesy as they go, but due to the rather meh vocals, the song does feel like they rather phoned this one in (although there’s some cool parts like the second verse) and the synths is rather game-y which is neat too! Might not be memorable, but I think it’s just OK.
3. Juujun na Slave
Team A is up next with Juujun na Slave and I was rather surprised by the cool vibe here which is something I’ve missed from the group. Despite the ladies are under auto-tune, the dance arrangement and lower vocal ranges here are REALLY nice and refreshing! I’m loving the song funny enough and reminds me of the cooler songs in their collection (AKB not so much Team A XD).
Yurigumi’s song kicks off with this weird random English hook line and the song becomes this funky-sounding tune which in a way sounds different but also feels muddled and kind of gross (especially since the chorus lacks punch overall). Meh song overall.
5. Hajimete no Drive
Team K is next and I wasn’t expecting much as there’s not a lot of songs from the Team I enjoy. Hajimete no Drive might be the slight exception due to it actually being a mid-tempo track. Though I could do without the strange pipe organ making things awkward and older than it needs to be. I do love that there’s a lot of solo lines (but I couldn’t tell ya who’s who hahah). Nice song though.
If I can recall, Cattleya-gumi is a newer -gumi group (which only complicates my figuring out these sub-groups). Of the three, Cattleya’s sounds like it has the most effort put into it due to it’s a ballad and opens up with a pretty orchestral sound. It’s a nice sounding song and the chorale feel of it adds up (although there is one girl who sounds a bit like a duck in certain harmonies). Other than that mishap, it’s a nice track.
7. Loneliness Club
Then we enter Team B’s song and it almost sounds like a fusion between “Utaitai” and acoustic guitars which is pretty unfortunate considering they’re on the same edition of the single. The strings are nice though and seeing them kind of flow in between wavy synths add something interesting, but this song’s melody could be compared to other AKB ballads in the worst way.
8. Seifuku no Hane
Then we come to Team 8’s song and of course it sounds like any other previous B-side from AKB singles with the guitars, synths, beats, and cutesy vocals. These kind of songs really kill my interest in the group because the girls don’t put any emotions into their song so the tune just falls flat and makes me think less of the producers each time…yeah…boring and trite as shit.
9. Me wo Aketa Mama no First Kiss
At least Team 4’s contribution is a little more exciting taking the latin route and I kind of love it because it adds spice and interest. Team 4 vocally is actually decent and there’s a nice light sexy tone to it that caught my attention. It does kind of remind me of Morning Musume’s “Iroppoi Jirettai” just not as heavy on the latin flair. So it’s OK.
10. Kaze no Rasen
Though Type-D does come with a 3rd B-side with Kaze no Rasen by Kojizaka48 (thank you for the name Haruna Kojima). Sadly, the song like “Seifuku no Hane” doesn’t really stand out on the single and the vocals are just subpar at best. It sounds really familiar though like there was an A-side that EXACTLY sounds like this, but I can’t put a finger on it.
So finally on Theater editions, we get a track in Reborn from Team Surprise (a surprise they haven’t disbanded yet). I do think its heavy anison sound is good, but once agan those chords just scream laziness. Meh song, unfortunately I know it’ll be on the album which disappoints me further.
Closing the era out, Kibouteki Refrain as a whole is probably their best release, I think. Kibouteki Refrain is actually a good A-side and doesn’t stick to the usual formula they’ve been following in forever. Of the B-sides though, the only ones to listen to are Juujun na Slave, Utaitai, and Me wo Aketa Mama no First Kiss. The others are just bland entries with nothing totally memorable about them…This album is shaping up to be really forgettable though.