Kurayami Monogatari

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Tsubaki Factory – first bloom November 15, 2018

Filed under: Tsubaki Factory — solarblade @ 6:52 am

firstbloom

Track Listing

  1. Hatsukoi Sunrise
  2. Hyoumen Chouryoku ~Surface Tension~
  3. Kon’ya Dake Ukaretakatta
  4. Shuukatsu Sensation
  5. I Need You ~Yozora no Kanransha~
  6. Kanousei no Concerto
  7. Shunrenka
  8. Date no Hi wa Nido Kurai Shower Shite Dekaketai
  9. Kaerou Let’s Go!
  10. Just Try!
  11. Junjou cm
  12. Waratte
  13. Yuki no Planetarium
  14. Uruwashi no Camellia
  15. Hana Moyou
  16. Teion Yakedo
  17. Happy Cracker
  18. Furisake Mireba…

CD2

  1. Hitorijime
  2. Kedakaku Sakihokore!
  3. Seishun Manmannaka!
  4. Watashi ga Obasan ni Nattemo
  5. 17sai
  6. Cabbage Hakusho ~Haru-hen~
  7. LET’S LIVE!
  8. Jiriri Kiteru
  9. Tokai no Hitorigurashi
  10. Tsukiatteru no ni Kataomoi
  11. ENDLESS YOUTH

1. Hatsukoi Sunrise

Fitting that the group’s first album would open up with their major label debut and known for being the debut for Mao, Saori, and Mizuho!  To be fair, the song was pretty awesome as the 9-nin’s debut because it just smacked hard and the tune is pretty damn catchy!  Plus, hearing all the members getting some kind of solo was pretty impressive and did a great job to alleviate the fears a lot of fans were having during their indies days!

2. Hyoumen Chouryoku ~Surface Tension~

So the album contains 6 new tracks (though 5 of those 6 were heard in concerts throughout the year so we’ve had some time with a couple of those.  Hyoumen Chouryoku was one of the more recent ones and from information, the song was kind of a freebie song that was used in a contest (lost, but was given to Tsubaki Factory down the line).  I already can tell that this one might stand out because of the funkier vibes I get here (almost feels like it belongs to Juice=Juice).  I will say the energy here is nice and the group sounds exciting too!  Not bad, if there’s anything the high note in the chorus is a bit abrasive, but the song is catchy too!

3. Kon’ya Dake Ukaretakatta

As part of the group’s 4th and final single for the album, I felt like most of that single just kind of flew by my head.  Coming back to this song, Kon’ya Dake Ukaretakatta was purely a favorite off that single (probably the best of the 2018 A-sides).  There’s just something so bright and cute about this song that just worked, maybe it’s those filtered vocals at the beginning and the beat of the track overall.  I just thought that it was a pretty awesome song and was a good tune to remember.

4. Shuukatsu Sensation

Moving back to their 2nd single, Shuukatsu Sensation was the primary A-side off the single and just like “Kon’ya Dake Ukaretakatta”, it was an instant favorite of mine off that single because it seemed a bit more funkier than their songs before.  I’m really liking a lot of the song because of the hooks and hearing Kishimon just belting it out always impressed me and then having Mizuho also having the other solo line just showed how much she was being pushed as a main singer.  Another awesome song!

5. I Need You ~Yozora no Kanransha~

Part of their 3rd single, I Need You was kind of a hot n’ cold kind of track for me.  I do like that it did slow things for the group and focused on solos and the sentimentality of the mood, but it’s kind of ruined by the weird passages of dubstep in the music bridges.  If they had taken that out altogether, I would’ve deemed the song higher because the rest is cute and poppy and just sweetness.  Still, did not need those parts ugh!

6. Kanousei no Concerto

Our next new track comes up next and like “Hyoumen Chouryoku”, was performed a bit more recently compared to other tracks and this one felt like an anison track from the beginning, but I’m not complaining at all!  Though the problem is with how memorable of a song it is on this album and while it does give a different sound in comparison to other tracks, I don’t think it quite sticks out over other songs (most of the A-sides).

7. Shunrenka

Like I said, most of the A-sides the group released this year have ben rather mediocre and forgettable to me and Shunrenka is one of those tracks.  I will say it does kind of feel slightly nostalgic with the guitar-heavy arrangement mixed in with that Springtime goodness, but it just doesn’t quite resonate with me much.  Yeah, this song was meh for me.

8. Date no Hi wa Nido Kurai Shower Shite Dekaketai

Same thing with the primary A-side of their 4th single, I’m not sure why Tsubaki’s lead tracks this year haven’t quite caught my attention versus other Hello! Project releases.  I mean, I do like the guitar flickering and the more serious side to the group, but there’s just something missing for me here.  It just felt like the verses were building to something pretty awesome, but the chorus just felt like a letdown.  At least listen to the verses because they are the best part of the track.

9. Kaerou Let’s Go!

The only track that wasn’t performed in any concerts as of the review, Kaerou Let’s Go! is technically the only brand spankin’ new track and they really amped up the cute factor for this one!  It does remind me of those songs we’d find in the anime era of H!P (ala Guardians 4 and Buono!).  I kind of like the brightness of the song here and the girls sound a LOT more younger than what I’m used to.  I wonder if it’s because they’re using Kisora, Ami, & Saori more here?  Does feel like it works in tandem with “Kanousei no Concerto” due to both songs having an anison kind of feel to them.  I kind of liked this one a lot!

10. Just Try!

Odd that they place Just Try! (their cool song) after the previous track as it kind of brings us back to familiar levels with the group.  After having so much time with this song and watching the group grow with more songs under their belt, this song actually kind of got worse as time went on.  I mean, I still dig some parts like the intro and the prechorus, but the rest of the song felt so flat and mechanical almost to the point of kind of being annoying to me.  This felt like something that belonged in the indies era of songs (and even then it’s not as strong as their original trio of indies songs).

11. Junjou cm

I don’t know why, but whenever I listen to this, I get reminded me of “Hatsukoi Sunrise” & “Hana Moyou” but with a touch of seriousness and better vocal strength all-around.  The arrangement is familiar using strings as well giving me a bit of S/mileage and Morning Musume vibes as well which doesn’t quite lift the song to a high enough platform for me to remember it by.  Though, I guess it’s the bridge between the good and poor A-sides of this year.

12. Waratte

I’m happy that the album picks up again with this A-side from their 2nd single, Waratte.  It definitely gives me a mix of 80s and funk vibes and that really solidified that whole single for me in a nice way.  It’s the group being outside of the box and being cute, yet coy about the whole song.  It’s just peppy and it works for me, great song and good choice to pick up the slack after the previous two tracks.

13. Yuki no Planetarium

As the oldest of the “new” tracks, I instantly fell in love with this song when I took a quick live listen to it.  I mean it does have a LOT of synthwork put into it more than the rest of the new tracks and it has Spanish guitar in it as well which really sounds cool!  I mean considering it did get first performed right after the release of their 2nd single, this track just sounds awesome and it’s definitely my favorite of the 6 new tracks here!  Really great job here!

14. Uruwashi no Camellia

On our final stretch of old songs, we get to Uruwashi no Camellia which kind of plays up the ragtime sound by putting filters on the girls for the first verse!  While I still think “Hatsukoi Sunrise” is the best from the single, I definitely appreciated the originality of this song and the choice to make the song sound old-timey for the verse (if it’s kind of odd without the video to give reason).  It’s a cute song and very playful for the group and definitely sticks out on the album (funny enough, I feel like a song like this would work for the newly unveiled group, Ame no Mori Kawa Umi).

15. Hana Moyou

I guess I can see why “Junjou cm” wasn’t placed here with the next two tracks as they all would kind of blend into each other too much.  With a sound that I could compare to something that C-ute would easily tackle if they were still together, Hana Moyou is a nice try at the more serious side to their group dynamic.  I still do think the chorus is a bit strange to my ears, but the song is still decent to me.

16. Teion Yakedo

Which brings us to the other serious song, Teion Yakedo and I still feel like it’s a great track, fixing the problems I had with “Hana Moyou”.  The chorus definitely gives me an anison sound, but it’s a strong and powerful chorus which I appreciate the most here.  While it was technically released digitally in 2017, it was the primary A-side of the first single they released this year and it still beat out most of the other songs (maybe except “Kon’ya Dake Ukaretakatta”).  It’s still a pretty damn good track overall!

17. Happy Cracker

As the last two tracks are new, I was kind of wondering why they placed this one back here as it’s pretty hyper and loud (especially coming after the cool “Teion Yakedo” and the ballad-like “Furisake Mireba…”.  Though the song does feel like an encore song for concerts because it’s happy-go-lucky and just fast-paced…think of a sugary take on C-ute’s “Iron Heart” or even their “JUMP”.  For me, it’s a bit too wild for me, but I do appreciate they have a song like this to really get the crowd excited!

18. Furisake Mireba…

The first disc closes out with Furisake Mireba… and unsurprisingly it’d be a softer song sung by the group here.  I mean, I do love the piano opening things up which is a totally different mood versus the rest of the album.  I do like the bouncy rhythm it gives me and after a third of the way, the song adds more odd things like beats/snaps and some flute-like thing.  It’s strange because it goes in and out of the arrangement, making it sound more kiddy than I thought it would.  It’s a decent closer, thought it was going to stay piano-only, but the added extras kind of made it cute and youthful.

CD2

1. Hitorijime

CD 2 begins with Hitorijime (which was the leading A-side off their 3rd indies single), now if you were coming into this hoping that the 6 indie tracks were resung to fit in Mao, Mizuho, and Saori, then you’ll be disappointed.  None of the tracks were edited so we still have the original recordings with the 6 members.  I’ve always thought Hitorijime was so oddly timed because the 2nd Gen members were added shortly after this single released (and it had a PV to go with it too).  Granted, this song was a bop and it really showcased Kishimon’s vocals up-front next to Risamaru and Kiki’s vocals as well (as originally those 3 were kind of used as the main vocalists).  The tune does kind of remind me of Platinum era Morning Musume but in a good way.  Definitely a nice track for them!

2. Kedakaku Sakihokore!

Though if I had to choose, their 2nd indies single was my favorite of them as it was straight EDM and they had vocal filters, a rap line between Kishimon & Risamaru and just a powerful sound that was sorely missing in their debut.  I also kind of wonder what a 9-nin version of this song would sound like…  Either way, this track was a great song to really push them forward and I’m happy they brought all of their indies work to the album.

3. Seishun Manmannaka!

God, it feels like it’s been forever since I’ve actually listened to this track and it feels so foreign to me because it was their debut!  I really wanna hear what current Tsubaki would sound like redoing this track.  It doesn’t quite have as much punch as “Kedakaku Sakihokore!” does being a little more technopop than a club bopper and considering that the vocals aren’t quite as stable as they are now…it was an interesting song to debut with.  I’ll take it though because it’s still can be an earworm.

4. Watashi ga Obasan ni Nattemo

The next two tracks were released in their indies days too, but these two are different because they’re covers of classic Chisato Moritaka tracks!  The first of them was found as the secondary A-side to “Hitorijime” and it is a little rough coming into these because they’ve been electro’d HEAVILY versus the originals.  I think this one felt more strongly messed with, but I do like how it’s toned down more than “17sai” was.  I still like it and hearing the girls sound happy in this track is just nice too.  Very fitting as an A-side!

5. 17sai

While “Seishun Manmannaka!” was their first official release as a group, this Moritaka cover was the first song they performed as a group!  Like I said with the track previous, 17sai was also heavily altered to more of an electro song (not quite like the DDR version) but it’s more upbeat and the synths are more grittier although the only qualm I have is that weird synth splash in the 2nd verse right after Risa’s line.  It’s a simpler song too and it gave all the members the same time to shine.  It’s still a good cover, but likewise…how did they switch it up after adding 3 members since they still perform this!

6. Cabbage Hakusho ~Haru-hen~

Of course they couldn’t leave out this track which was the only new track off the “SOUND + VISION Vol.1” mini-album they did.  This cover of the SATOYAMA group, Peaberry’s song is pretty basic I’d say as things go…a LOT more interesting than the original two-takes from Peaberry, but I still have issues with it.  I mean it’s nothing of Tsubaki’s fault luckily, but I still hate they shoved “Furusato” up in it after the first chorus and kind of throwing off everything (I know why it’s there, but it’s still distracting nonetheless).  Without that glaring mess, I’d say it’s a nice cover and it felt better having more members involved than just Riho and Ayaka.

7. LET’S LIVE!

So the rest of Disc 2 has new covers (a thing that Hello! Project has been seeming to do a LOT with albums recently ala Juice=Juice & Kobushi Factory).  Kicking things off is probably one of two surprises and this is a cover of a B-side from v-u-den’s 2007 single, “Koisuru♡Angel♡Heart”.  I mean considering we tripled the amount of members to fit here, I was curious to see what it’s like and it definitely has the Hello! Project of yore with the synth horns and nostalgic H!P vibes.  It’s a peppy track and hearing the girls in a higher range is interesting.  I dug it!

8. Jiriri Kiteru

Of course it was initially shown that the Factory groups were kind of like Berryz & C-ute so it’s not surprise that Tsubaki would cover a track from both groups!  Since none of the arrangements were touched, I was happy to see Jiriri Kiteru covered since the original Berryz cut had more of younger vocals.  Then again I can argue that Tsubaki sounds just as young as them.  I don’t think it sounds as raw as the original, but they handled it pretty well vocally.  It’s just that I expect Momoko, Miyabi, and Risako and they aren’t here LOL.

9. Tokai no Hitorigurashi

Interesting they decided to cover this song as it was one of the more recent C-ute songs.  I mean, I don’t think it’s the group’s signature song, but it’s nice they were given more of a peppy song to cover like “LET’S LIVE!”.  Tsubaki’s take on Tokai no Hitorigurashi isn’t going to sound quite as womanly like the original (remember C-ute was like hitting their 20’s at this point).  It’s decent, but I think I’ll stick to the original cut this time.

10. Tsukiatteru no ni Kataomoi

Another Berryz cover?  Another song I wasn’t expecting to be covered, this one was only 5 singles after “Jiriri Kiteru”.  While it wasn’t one of my favorites when Berryz was active, I did like how upbeat they were and it’s kind of a silly song almost.  Tsubaki sounds fitting for a song like this, almost a bit cuter than the original, but it was almost because Berryz was going through their vocal changes (puberty).  It’s a good cover overall and I’d maybe rank it as the best cover (not including the previous released covers).

11. ENDLESS YOUTH

Ending off the 2nd disc, we close things out with a Melon Kinenbi track (an album song from their first album, “1st Anniversary”).  An odd choice indeed because of the arrangement, but I dug they chose it for the lyrics here.  I also like how it showcased the group vocally too!  Like “LET’S LIVE!”, it just brings nostalgia to me for older H!P songs and closes this album off in a nice bow.  Everyone sounds nice and the feeling is still there after the original quartet of the Melon’s sung it.

Tracks Recommended

  • Shuukatsu Sensation
  • Hatsukoi Sunrise
  • Yuki no Planetarium
  • Kon’ya Dake Ukaretakatta
  • Waratte

 

  • Kedakaku Sakihokore!
  • Watashi ga Obasan ni Nattemo
  • Hitorijime
  • Tsukiatteru no ni Kataomoi
  • 17sai

Song of Avoidance

  • Just Try!
  • Cabbage Hakusho ~Haru-hen~

Wow!  We’re finally here at Tsubaki’s first album!  This was definitely crammed with a lot of material (like Juice=Juice’s sophomore album earlier in the year) and it seems like I ended up really enjoying a LOT of this album despite only having 6 new tracks and 5 covers on top of the already released stuff.  A lot of their releases have kept me excited for this album (maybe not so much the 2 singles they released this year).  first bloom has a lot of interesting things going for it and it’s worth a listen!

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