Kurayami Monogatari

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NCT DREAM – Reload April 30, 2020

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 4:58 am

Reload 46

Track Listing

  1. Ridin’
  2. Quiet Down
  3. 7 Days
  4. Love Again
  5. Puzzle Piece

1. Ridin’

It feels like it’s been forever since “BOOM” so I was excited to see NCT DREAM return and it seems we’re back to something a bit more harder for the group, kind of feeling like “GO” without the pure aggression it had.  There’s some really neat parts especially with Jaemin kicking things off and hearing all the remaining members doing their thing that they’ve been pulling off since the last couple of releases.  Not bad at all and I was still pretty impressed overall that’s for sure!

2. Quiet Down

I actually was more interested in hearing Quiet Down, though it’s still pretty much in the same cool vein that “Ridin'” had which is neat.  Though this one has a bit more interesting dynamics and overall sound like Chenle singing low lines and Renjun rapping in the second verse.  I mean still, Jeno and Jaemin still own the raps, but I was just overall surprised in these switch-ups.  I’d even argue that it’s better than the leading track to be quite honest!

3. 7 Days

Though the remainder of the mini-album has the group take on more lighter arrangements starting with 7 Days which takes the group into an R&B sound (something that NCT 127 has done a lot of from their latest album).  Though I’m already more interested in the song because of the younger vocals and the harmonies are sweet to hear.  I do enjoy the arrangement of the song a lot, but I don’t think I’ll be able to remember the melody much except for its chorus which is pleasant!

4. Love Again

Oh do I like Haechan opening the next song Love Again a lot.  I mean the song screams like 90’s boy band style here with the vocals chops and the chanting alongside in the verses.  Yeah, once the chorus hits, it heavily starts to feel nostalgic to the kid in me back in the 90s and I kind of love the New Jack Swing groove from it.  Nice little tune here and did pretty well!

5. Puzzle Piece

Ending the mini, we have the ballad of the release in Puzzle Piece and it’s pretty much your cute love song from the group.  I do like the stripped down feel of the song mostly surrounded by acoustic guitar which is interesting for the group as they haven’t tackled something like this.  It’s pretty intimate and soft-spoken and that was nice to see from them.

 

 

I was wondering where NCT DREAM was after last year’s “We Boom” and they returned with another great mini-album here.  I think 4 out of the 5 songs were really good tracks and showed the group growing more.  I think 7 Days is the weakest to me because it feels like other NCT songs out there.  I think this group of 6 is continuing to be awesome…

would be the thing I’d say if they didn’t announce a couple days prior that NCT DREAM’s graduation concept is being dropped entirely, Mark is returning to the group, and from the sound of it will act like NCT U (which makes me wonder how active they’ll be moving forward because NCT U is barely kicking right now).

 

Kanon Wakeshima – odd sting & intrigue April 29, 2020

Filed under: Kanon Wakeshima — solarblade @ 2:42 pm

oddsting

Track Listing

  1. NEXT
  2. asteroid
  3. Akuma no Sasayaki
  4. altar
  5. REVERSE

1. NEXT

As the first track from the mini, NEXT was something I didn’t expect to come from Kanon as it’s a little more R&B and slightly soulful in its arrangement.  I feel like Kanon seems to have gotten better singing in these songs as her whispy vocals sound suitable for the style and she just comes off cool and sultry.  Not sure if I like the rapping in the 2nd verse but it is followed up nicely with a cello solo from her which is pretty awesomes.  Not a bad way to start the album off.

2. asteroid

I’m immediately liking the darker tones that asteroid brings that kind of harkens back to hear earlier days.  Kanon’s tone though is really interesting here as it’s even more quieter and mysterious up to the chorus where it comes out and while her English is a little spotty, I can dig the tone of the tune and just feels right!

3. Akuma no Sasayaki

Guess Kanon needed to throw something upbeat and cute as is the case with Akuma no Sasayaki.  It definitely gives me some slight “Princess Charleston” vibes, but I’m OK with it since this track is catchy and the jazzy / ragtime tones are pretty good as it should be.  It’s playful and the arrangement is exciting to me, probably my favorite from the mini!

4. altar

Things slow down a bit again for altar here.  I think of the tracks, altar kind of feels like more of the sound we’ve gotten used to from “Tsukinami” and “luminescene Q.E.D”.  Though not a whole lot of the cello conscience until the bridge, but the rest of the song is kind of performed by a band.  Not quite as anison, but it’s a simpler track for Kanon and for the most part, it’s OK but the previous 3 tracks stood out more.  I will say her last notes in the song were surprisingly strong for someone who I thought wasn’t too capable of it.

5. REVERSE

I feel like coming into the last track, REVERSE feels like a fusion of both “NEXT” and “altar” with the funkier vibes but the same band-like tone as well.  It’s slightly more upbeat than the latter track, but this might just be me.  REVERSE is OK, didn’t like the repetitive chorus much and it kind of feels like somewhat of a B-side would sound like to me.

 

 

I definitely remember seeing this just randomly pop up without prior knowledge when it released, so it was a nice surprise to see Kanon return, though bummed it was just a digital release.  odd sting & intrigue sees Kanon kind of gelling more to these jazzy routes and I’m OK with this as it brings a little more liveliness to her music (though I still miss her more goth, baroque pieces from her SONY days.  Not a bad release, did fizzle out towards the end, but I like this little sampler release.  I wonder if that’s where she’ll stay sound-wise going forward though.

 

SAWA – Bijin Hakumei Aegekai

Filed under: SAWA — solarblade @ 5:42 am

bijinhakumei

Track Listing

  1. HowToLove
  2. Dokin
  3. BIG
  4. Gyoumu Teikei
  5. PoisonGirl
  6. Bijin Hakumei Aegekai
  7. Irodore! Playground
  8. Zigzag Non Stop
  9. Chikutaku Teleport
  10. Haru ni

1. HowToLove

SAWA opens up the mini-album with HowToLove and I’m instantly pulled to the funkier vibes back then with the quick-based synth with the heavy lean on bass for the track.  I mean I like the arrangement of the song and while SAWA has never been the best vocalist, she’s kind of giving me this cutesy voice that’s almost anison in ways.  It’s a nice start at least and makes me curious to see where this mini goes.

2. Dokin

Then we get Dokin that turns the cutesy tone way up for this one and I’m not as much quite into this one.  I’m not sure where it falters where it’s between the strange arrangement or the vocals as per usual.  I do appreciate the kind of space-like atmosphere it’s giving but it’s nowhhere near as impressive as songs like “Stars” or even “Swimming Dancing” was back in the day.  Oh wells.

3. BIG

Third track in and I’m a little surprised she reused an asset heard back in the first track, but the song’s tone is a bit between cute and electronic mixed in with future bass in ways which kind of sounds messy when you also include SAWA actually doing some pseudo-rapping in the track.  Yeah, no this one way pretty messy and annoyed me to no end.

4. Gyoumu Teikei

At least with the next track, it sounds like things were going in a better direction (at least anything after “BIG” is considered better.  Gyoumu Teikei definitely is the album’s electro song at the moment and it feels progressive and not like something that sounds a little too outside of SAWA’s box.  I really do like SAWA’s vocals and it worked with the piano and warm-colored dance beats here.  Yah, this one stood out for me and might be the album’s gem!

5. PoisonGirl

I wasn’t sure where PoisonGirl was taking SAWA and why is she reusing that ~WAHOO~ asset so much on this album, it’s kind of making me dislike the repeated used.  Outside of that grievance, PoisonGirl is interesting because it’s like a bit cute, but somewhat darker but SAWA’s idol-like vocals are just kind of splitting the song.  This one may take a while for me to get used to.

6. Bijin Hakumei Aegekai

We get to the album’s title track (and promotional track as well) with Bijin Hakumei Aegekai!  It kind of follows the same tone that “HowToLove” did with the funky bass slaps , but this has a little more oomph in its arrangement that sounds like SAWA is having a fun time singing the song and it really comes off that way.  It’s a ridiculously cute and fun song that’s for sure!

7. Irodore! Playground

Getting into our next track, Irodore! Playground is giving me some unfortunate “BIG” vibes with the weird arrangement and melody on top of SAWA’s nasal vocals that kind of make the song a little more annoying and idol-like in ways and the chorus is a little frantic and pushy.  Just not working here…

8. Zigzag Non Stop

Moving on, Zigzag Non Stop starts off simple enough, but the cutesy voice is pretty much on high throughout the song and the verses made it sound worse than it truly should, but once she enters the chorus, the chorus adds more synths and beats to make things a bit more bearable.  I still don’t agree with her vocals in the verses, but she sounds decent in the chorus.  It’s OK I guess, but nothing I’d come back to.

9. Chikutaku Teleport

Ooooh, a jazzy song pops up with Chikutaku Teleport and it’s just more of the frantic upbeat arrangement that other songs had problems with throughout (sometimes less is better, basically).  I do enjoy the verses though because it focuses more on the instrumentation and less the beat.  I think I could grow into liking it, but it’s just a meh song at the moment.

10. Haru ni

As the album’s final song, I was surprised that it was SAWA and piano.  It actually surprised me a lot that SAWA was actually singing in the song, however she definitely could not really handle the song by herself and her tight and pinched vocals.  This was a nice treat, but it just solidified how weak she is as a singer.

 

 

As this is SAWA’s 11th mini-album, I was pretty disappointed in this one.  I felt like she was showing off more of an idol vibe and was pulling away from the electronic genre with this album, but not straying too far.  That said, not many of the songs really clicked with me and she had a LOT of stinkers on this one too.  Not sure what she was going for, but I want her back into EDM again and not head where she did in Haru ni.  Meh mini-album.

 

NCT DREAM – THE DREAM

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 4:21 am

thedream

Track Listing

  1. Chewing Gum
  2. My First and Last
  3. We Young
  4. GO
  5. We Go Up
  6. BOOM
  7. Candle Light

1. Chewing Gum

Of course we start this mini-album with their debut song and boy the group has come a LOOOONG way since this song especially in doing more mature songs.  Jumping back to Chewing Gum is a little jarring because it was so youthful and happy-go-lucky.  I just remember a LOT of Haechan & Mark in the song because they were at that time the popular members (thanks to NCT U & NCT 127).  The song is pretty cute still and hearing the new members (Renjun, Chenle, Jisung, Jeno, and Jaemin) was refreshing and held the song up too.  Still a fun song to come back to!

2. My First and Last

As it was the group’s first comeback, My First and Last kept the youthful sound up, but kind of took it in a more funkier route which was great!  Sad that Jaemin had to miss this and “We Young” due to an injury so the remaining 6 had to continue on.  I’m really liking the group’s dynamics for the most part (Haechan leads while Mark still has the main rap lines).  Though hearing the other new members is nice to hear too, a good sign that the group was just going to get better!

3. We Young

I still definitely am here and there with this song to this day, but I’ve warmed a bit more since reviewing it originally.  I think the move to it’s kind of genre was an odd choice and felt more like a step back to the kiddy nature of “Chewing Gum”.  I do like hearing Chenle and Renjun step up a bit more here and with Jeno and Jisung taking more rap lines is interesting too.  Like I said, it’s a bit divisive of a song, but it works and made sense as a leading track!

4. GO

So with “We Young” diving back to the child-like wonders, GO was a HELLA SHARP 180 in comparison.  Being as NCT DREAM’s contribution to the NCT collective album, “EMPATHY”, GO was a huge change for the group’s sound as it was more hip-hop and aggressive (as if they traded styles with NCT 127 here).  Though I love this song still and it remains one of the best NCT tracks out there.  Also, Jaemin returns and he shares a decent rap line with Jeno in the song actually everyone but Jisung had shine here.  It’s such a change of pace, but I love that they did it.

5. We Go Up

Which made sense they’d continue that streak with their next comeback which was also the last main song Mark did with the group before his graduation from said group due to age.  Though it’s great to see Jaemin and Jeno kickstart the song with Mark and Jisung following behind leaving the other 3 members to take the pre-chorus for once.  It’s a very energetic song with a booming chorus that’s really catchy in some ways (the chorus’ lyrics are a bit…monotonous though).  Great song though I will say!

6. BOOM

So the first post-Mark NCT DREAM song, BOOM was pretty cool too giving us a classier style for the group and showcased more of the members and it’s really interesting to listen to because of the beats and great energy the group has.  I was worried that Haechan wasn’t going to be involved because of his international trip with NCT 127, so I’m happy he was able to do it though making sparse visuals in the MV.  Still an awesome song!

7. Candle Light

Interesting choice that they closed this mini-album with Candle Light considering it wasn’t an official release from the band, but more like an SM Station release.  It is also slightly strange because it’s the ballad where the rest of the album was upbeat danceable songs.  Though I will say I still enjoyed this song because it’s just a happy song especially since this was the last PV Mark did as part of NCT DREAM.  It’s a nice track overall and closes the mini with a cute little bow.

 

 

I get that this mini-album was the group’s sort-of debut in Japan, but like was this truly needed?  I mean they didn’t even redo the songs in Japanese and purely left as the Korean takes.  I mean the group’s 6 main songs and an SM Station track was nice and is the best songs from the group, but like if you were going to include Candle Light, might as well included “JOY”, “Trigger the fever” and “Don’t Need Your Love” at that point.  Like I said this mini-album is 7 amazing songs, but the effort and lack of surprises or anything new hurts this release a LOT.

 

UVERworld – ROB THE FRONTIER

Filed under: UVERworld — solarblade @ 3:44 am

robthefrontier

Track Listing

  1. ROB THE FRONTIER
  2. Touch off (2019.6.6 Live at Okinawa MUSIC TOWN OTO-ICHIBA)
  3. Ø choir (2019.6.6 Live at Okinawa MUSIC TOWN OTO-ICHIBA)
  4. ConneQt (2019.6.6 Live at Okinawa MUSIC TOWN OTO-ICHIBA)
  5. ROB THE FRONTIER (short ver.)
  6. ROB THE FRONTIER (instrumental)

CD2

  1. EMPTY96 (2019.6.6 Live at Okinawa MUSIC TOWN OTO-ICHIBA)
  2. Arubeki Katachi (2019.6.6 Live at Okinawa MUSIC TOWN OTO-ICHIBA)
  3. ODD FUTURE (Remixed by R3HAB)
  4. EDEN e (Remixed by DJ White Shadow)

1. ROB THE FRONTIER

With ROB THE FRONTIER, I feel like UVERworld decided to at least make it pretty straightforward and kind of to-the-books like stuff in their first 3 albums by being more punk rock and loud about it.  Though it seems it’s like that up to the bridge where it kind of shifts into more of this synthy/heavy vocal filter section for its bridge.  Not bad, not great, just OK for the most part, but it’s still very much UVERworld.

 

 

*will review the remixes if they leak*  As the 5th A-side, they closed out the “UNSER” era with a rather safe song when compared to the rest.  I mean ROB THE FRONTIER is pretty much UVERworld without the eccentricities that the other 4 leading songs have.  Not their best single especially when it’s crammed with 5 lives and 2 remixes, but I suppose a single with no B-side would’ve been poor choice.

 

UVERworld – Touch off

Filed under: UVERworld — solarblade @ 3:07 am

touchoff

Track Listing

  1. Touch off
  2. ConneQt
  3. Touch off (short ver.)
  4. Touch off (instrumental)

1. Touch off

After 3 leading songs that was pretty unique, why not a 4th one to deal with?  Yeah, I will say that I’m enjoying that Touch off does sound quite different from songs before by utilizing the acoustic guitar much more in the front while the band plays behind it.  Though I can say for fact that I’m not quite into this song too much, I did appreciate SEIKA, but the thing I remember most is the whole ~sugoi ni fire~ line that pops in throughout the verses.  It’s OK, but definitely screams B-side to me.

2. ConneQt

As for the actual B-side, ConneQt tones things done white a bit for the band with it’s funky groove and slow jam tone which is nice to hear after all of the wild energy the band has put in for the last couple singles so this is essentially a breath of fresh air.  Surprised to hear the vocal filter, but it adds color to the song, but I feel like I’ve heard this kind of track before from them.

 

 

Yes, there is a second disc, but it’s just more live versions of past songs.  Anyways I felt like I didn’t hear about this song prior to release and not surprised I wasn’t too enthusiastic with its turnout as a whole either.  Kind of says something when both tracks actually do end up on “UNSER” ironically enough.  Touch off does fit the band’s current experimentation phase, but it doesn’t quite leave a mark like the previous 3 A-sides have and ConneQt is nice and needed in this era, as a whole, it’s nothing totally special sadly.

 

UVERworld – GOOD and EVIL/EDEN e

Filed under: UVERworld — solarblade @ 2:42 am

goodandevil

Track Listing

  1. GOOD and EVIL
  2. EDEN e
  3. KINJITO (Live at Yokohama Arena 2017.12.21)
  4. Halzion (Live at Yokohama Arena 2017.12.21)

1. GOOD and EVIL

As the leading track of the single, GOOD and EVIL continues with the band’s kind of experimentation since “ODD FUTURE” but this one is a little more in your face, but has a mix of synths, the band themselves, and some vocal filters to kind of gives us this frantic track that’s pretty nifty and impressive.  There’s a LOT of different feels throughout and it works once again.  I really do commend TAKUYA for his presence as his edgier vocals always seem to capture my focus pretty well!  Another strong A-side!

2. EDEN e

As for the other A-side, it begins with a little bit of Seika and follows through with a more darker sound in comparison to “GOOD and EVIL”, but also somewhat grounded in sound.  While I do love TAKUYA’s energetic vocals, his slower and more melancholic tone is just as unique and cool to listen to.  I’m pretty surprised EDEN e is more of the band stepping out and giving us an interesting sound (though there’s one point where I was reminded of INFINITE’s “The Eye” but that’s small). Double winner!

 

 

*Won’t be reviewing the lives*  Anyways, I was wondering where UVERworld was heading after the sheer popularity that came from “ODD FUTURE” and this single was really awesome and I’m pretty sure KINJITO & Halzion were good live performances since I enjoy those two tracks too!  This is pretty amazing and one of their better singles in recent times! *RECOMMENDED*

 

AAA – BAD LOVE April 28, 2020

Filed under: AAA — solarblade @ 3:56 am

badlove

Track Listing

  1. BAD LOVE
  2. BAD LOVE (Instrumental)
  3. Koi Oto to Amazora (Jazzy Rain REMIX)
  4. PARTY IT UP (CITY SUMMER PARTY REMIX)

1. BAD LOVE

Yeah, wasn’t expecting AAA to kind of return to style with BAD LOVE and I’ve definitely missed this side of the group for quite a while.  It’s a bit in their cool sound and interestingly enough I’m hearing a LOT of Shuta and Shinji (primarily to due a happening that I’ll explain about this single’s release).  I mean it’s really nice hearing these two get the verses primarily while leaving Nissy & Misako with kind of the endings of the verse and chorus while Hidaka has the rap verses which still shows his nice flow.  Is it sad this is probably my favorite A-side of theirs since….”No Way Back” if not, “GAME OVER?”.

2. Koi Oto to Amazora (Jazzy Rain REMIX)

Of course with the single comes remixes, the first is of course a mellow jazzy remix of their ballad song from 2013.  I mean it doesn’t really mean much to me because I had forgotten what the original had sounded like, but I noticed that I think it wasn’t resung because you can still hear Naoya and Chiaki singing in the song.  I do like the added beat, but still doesn’t quite make me remember it much more beyond that.

3. PARTY IT UP (CITY SUMMER PARTY REMIX)

The other remix is for another of their 2013 singles, this one for PARTY IT UP and to be honest I haven’t enjoyed any of its remixes (since the original is pretty damn good as it is).  This one takes out the abundant electro sounds and replaces it with warmer colors like acoustic guitars and piano that really do make it sound summery.  Honestly, it kind of works here, I mean the chorus is still kind of weak, but I’d say the got the mood right and it sounds pleasant to my ears, so I’d say it’s a winner.

 

 

So you might have wondered, but yes AAA is currently at 5 members due to Naoya’s scandal and him withdrawing from the group, though it came shortly before the group announced that at the end of 2020, the group will be in an indefinite hiatus which really kind of mean they’re going to follow their solo careers.  Sad because AAA was one of the first group to really get me into J-pop in the first place so they really carry a lot of my memories for me (and this blog).

Though not sure if this is their actual final single (they did release a best album after this single), BAD LOVE is a really decent song from them in a time where I thought AAA had lost their magic between “GOLD SYMPHONY” to now.  The A-side is pretty cool and the PARTY IT UP remix was surprisingly done well and the Koi Oto to Amazora remix was ok.  I do wonder if they have enough to release one more single before their hiatus kicks in.

 

NCT 127 – Neo Zone

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 2:39 am

neozone

Track Listing

  1. Elevator (127F)
  2. Kick It
  3. Boom
  4. Pandora’s Box
  5. Day Dream
  6. Interlude: Neo Zone
  7. MAD DOG
  8. Sit Down!
  9. Love Me Now
  10. Love Song
  11. White Night
  12. Not Alone
  13. Dreams Come True

The Final Round Tracklist

  1. Punch
  2. NonStop
  3. Prelude
  4. Kick It
  5. Boom
  6. Pandora’s Box
  7. Day Dream
  8. Make Your Day
  9. Interlude: Neo Zone
  10. MAD DOG
  11. Sit Down!
  12. Love Me Now
  13. Love Song
  14. White Night
  15. Not Alone
  16. Dreams Come True
  17. Elevator (127F)

1. Elevator (127F)

As the opening to the album, Elevator starts off with a nice funky synth that follows into more funky riffs throughout!  I’m really caught off guard that we’re here with the group and everyone seems to have a nice amount of presence here.  Of course I’m always mostly vocally impressed by Haechan, Taeil, and Doyoung, but it seems more of the group is starting to show presence here.  Nice song to open things up with.

2. Kick It

Of course we’ll get into the promoted track from the album (though that’s saying a little, but since every song had a short version PV with the exception of “Dreams Come True” which had a full one as well).  Not shockingly it’s one of the few edgier songs from the album, in some ways.  The main hooks are the more snappier ones (and strange talking about Bruce Lee), but then you have the verses which are a lot chilled out and the raps from Taeyong and Mark.  It’s a little weird, slightly making me think of “Limitless” in a way.  Still not the best leading song from the group, it just seems to carry the kind of in-your-face groove style that songs prior (“Chain” and “Wakey Wakey” did but better).

3. Boom

Not to be confused with NCT DREAM’s song of the same name, we get a different song completely with NCT 127.  Right from the start, it’s a lot more laidback and chill with acoustic guitars and more focus on the vocals (like “Elevator”).  I really do appreciate this lightness and kind of glowing feel.  Though it does this thing after the chorus where it felt like it was gonna go harder, but doesn’t do it lol.  Sad, because I kind of liked where that part was going like it was going into a rap for Taeyong who isn’t really in the song I’ve noticed.  It’s OK, but felt like more could’ve been done here (or actually had the group cover the NCT DREAM song instead lol).

4. Pandora’s Box

I’m kind of wondering where this album is going because other than “Kick It”, it’s been pretty mellow so far.  For a title such as Pandora’s Box, it’s pretty much light R&B here like another “Elevator” which is OK and everyone once again gets a decent spotlight shone on them in lines and I’m really loving the vocals especially from Johnny, Jaehyun, and Yuta!  This does feel more NCT 127 though with Mark and Taeyong swapping raps in the bridge though, so that’s nice, but I don’t know if I like this more or less than “Elevator” as the two are kind of way similar to one another.

5. Day Dream

Not sure where I’d put this song to be honest.  It’s like NCT U’s “YESTODAY” with the kind of slow R&B, but kind of urban-ish in some ways?  Like 90’s R&B.  Though this time it’s covered in lovely vocals, especially from the vocal line who are really wrangling listeners with the angelic vocals in this one.  Like those high notes from Doyoung, Yuta, Jaehyun, and Jungwoo is just eargasmic.  Hell, Johnny is in the rap line in the bridge so there’s some decent surprises.  Though vocally I’m super impressed, the song’s arrangement is kind of bland, but it sets itself behind the impressive vocals, so I can’t bomb it too hard.

6. Interlude: Neo Zone

So we come to the middle of the album with a little bit of a musical break.  It still feels like a continuation of “Day Dream” with the melody in the background, but it slowly changes and gets a bit more edgy again with some aggressive synths and powerful synth beats which is really cool!  It ends with Johnny saying a line and that’s about it…short but I suppose it’s there to shift tones!

7. MAD DOG

At least the interlude works because MAD DOG is a bit more edgy right from the start.  Though it is the first of the group splitting into smaller grouping, this one with Taeyong, Mark, Doyoung, and Taeil.  I’m kind of surprised since y’know half is the rap line, and the other two are powerful singers.  Though it turns out most of it is on the rap line (Taeil & Doyoung only get one solo line in the bridge).  The song itself is cool to a certain extent, the which screeching synth in the chorus kind of lame and the bass falls back…making it more kind concerning to me.  It’s OK but not the best.

8. Sit Down!

It’s funny, Sit Down! also fits more of the edgier side with the softer verses.  Like “MAD DOG” it feels like Taeyong and Mark once again get the focus here, but with the remainder of the group being a part of the song, makes it feel better in places, I do like the verses a LOT more than its chorus where that chorus is so robotic and more of a nuisance (Johnny’s endline is kind of goofy and Yuta under the immense amount of auto-tune, kind of kills me on the inside).  Though I think the raps and the slower clean vocal parts save the song, but yeah, this was too much.

9. Love Me Now

I’m pretty happy we leave the harder tracks behind and return to something nicer in the tropical dance track, Love Me Now.  It gives me some really nice vibes to songs like “Replay” and “Highway to Heaven” with the chants and light dance vibes.  Plus once again the vocals kill it and really puts a smile on my face, this may be my favorite track from the album if I had to be honest.

10. Love Song

Did we return to the same sound from “Boom” and “Pandora’s Box” for Love Song?  Of the songs I thought was going to be a ballad, it’s anything but, but I really ended up jiving with this one especially with the group’s harmonies in this one.  The vocal line seem to be having fun with this one being able to freely show their chops (especially Haechan, Doyoung, Jungwoo, and Taeil).  Even better with the rapping trio having the bridge.  Though I have to say again, it’s leaving me like “Day Dream” did where the music wasn’t as interesting as the vocals.

11. White Night

I guess it makes sense that the actual ballad of the album is in White Night and no surprise that once again the vocal line takes priority.  Though with a simple piano and light synth arrangement, it suits all the amazing vocalists in a great way.  I had thought the song would remain the whole way through, but the chorus introduces the R&B beats.  I’m actually liking both sides of the song and really comes together especially since Taeyong and Mark are singing and not being rappers here.  Not bad overall here!

12. Not Alone

Interesting ethereal synths open up our last track and we hear Haechan, Jaehyun, Jungwoo, and Doyoung with their stellar vocals and then hearing Johnny and Mark tackle the chorus, it’s pretty surprising to say the least to hear members used this way.  It’s a strange track since it doesn’t rise and fall like other tracks do and the minimal arrangement is nice (the trap snaps are a little annoying, but otherwise, not bad here either).

13. Dreams Come True

Though the album comes with a bonus track in Dreams Come True, which was a gift track for fans on January 27th (or 1/27…NCT 127 Day) and hearing it, it definitely gives me a light 90s R&B groove behind it and it was well mixed I’d say.  Though once again, it kind of meshes alongside “Elevator” and “Day Dream” and I find it difficult to remember it after a while, especially since it is a bonus track.  Though this was also the song to bring back Jungwoo (who I didn’t know prior was on hiatus).  So I mean yay?  Where’s Winwin though?

The Final Round

1. Punch

So the repackaged album released and of course they shove 3 of the new tracks at the front, but for whatever reason threw “Elevator” at the end of the album.  Punch was the promotional track for the re-release and I’m slightly confused how I feel about this one that’s for sure.  It does harken for more of an electro vibe and yet the feel of the track feels a bit more familiar to “Kick It”.  Even down to the aggressive chorus but softer verses.  Though I’m enjoying the equality of the song and hearing Johnny singing is always nice to see up front.  It’s OK, but I think the aforementioned track did much better in the long run.

2. NonStop

Though the futuristic vibes continue into the next track, NonStop and this is a little more of what I was hoping for without the aggressive nature of the group being at the front.  The group’s R&B tone was nice and the flow of the track felt more cooler to me than something like “Punch” did.  Still does kind of feel like an album track though so there’s not a heavy hook going on, but the tune is great!

3. Prelude

Which brings up to the 3rd track which is more or less something to pretty much open into “Kick It”  I mean the Japanese vibes mixed with the funky arrangement and things that sound like Kung Fu stuff is throughout on top of this trap-like atmosphere is interesting.  Not quite sure “Kick It” needed something, but it appreciated that the hook of the tune is a part of the Prelude so that’s good right?

8. Make Your Day

Later on in the tracklist, we get the 3rd and last of the new tracks with Make Your Day, a song sung between (Doyoung, Jaehyun, Jungwoo, Taeil, and Haechan), it’s another ballad for the album, but it feels a bit more romantic in nature which is surprisingly nice and with the tune being piano-onlu, really adds the fact that these 5 are a great vocal unit.  Though seeing as it is after “Day Dream”, it does come off slightly boring at that point, but I can’t deny that this was a good track.

Tracks Recommended

  • Love Me Now
  • White Night
  • Pandora’s Box
  • Kick It
  • Not Alone

Song of Avoidance

  • Sit Down!

I personally cannot begin to say where I think this album failed to be honest.  I mean NCT 127 has been incredibly busy since “regular-irregular” released and I think the fatigue was kind of starting to show…although…it’s the writers/producers and not so much the group themselves?  There was really no winners here and their best track, Love Me Now, is still lower than many of their previous songs.  It felt almost generic in places and at this point I feel like NCT 127 should have evaded these rather vanilla offerings at this point.  Maybe cut off half the album would’ve done better in this case, though it seems there’ll be a repackaged release soon with 3-ish new songs (one is an interlude to Kick It, as if it was needed).  Dunno, just wasn’t into this one sadly.

Then The Final Round repackage came out and for the most part, the 3 new tracks are decent additions, but I still feel the overall package was just kind of there for me, a little better, Prelude could’ve easily been left off and throwing Elevator at the end of the album is a bit strange of a choice, but I would say this would be better to get between the two.

 

Juice=Juice – Pop Music/Suki tte Itte yo April 1, 2020

Filed under: Juice=Juice — solarblade @ 6:04 am

popmusic

Track Listing

  1. Pop Music
  2. Suki tte Itte yo
  3. Tsuzuiteiku STORY (Symphonic Version feat. Karin)
  4. Borderline (Reg A only)
  5. Va-Va-Voom (Reg B only)
  6. Pop Music (Instrumental)
  7. Suki tte Itte yo (Instrumental)
  8. Tsuzuiteiku STORY (Symphonic Version feat. Karin) (Instrumental)
  9. Borderline (Instrumental)
  10. Va-Va-Voom (Instrumental)

1. Pop Music

As the leading A-side of the single, Pop Music is actually a cover track, the original being done earlier in the year by KAN (y’know, the same guy that sung “Sakura Night Fever” that Kobushi Factory would later cover).  The tune itself does give itself a couple references to 80’s Pop Songs (like The Village People’s “YMCA” and M’s “Pop Muzik”).  Though the song doesn’t quite lean too hard as it is its own track.  Though I can’t say the song itself is all that great here.  I do appreciate its upbeat nature though and hearing Karin lead is kind of a nice way to showcase her before her graduation.  Also nice to hear the other members, especially the newbies, Riai and Yume as this is kind of their first original song to debut in.  I think it can grow, but it’s going to be a slow burner of a song for me

2. Suki tte Itte yo

For a title that I had initially thought would be slower and a bit more mature, Suki tte Itte yo is quite the opposite having a rather funky element which is quite sticking to Juice=Juice’s pedigree.  I’m loving the funky bass and the brassy touches really stick out nicely, but I’m not quite grasping the song’s melody especially the chorus where I feel is the weakest for me.  The verses are where I’m mostly intrigued with the vocals and hearing Riai and Yume more is surprising nice that’s for sure!  I’m really happy to see those two fitting in as well as they are.  Not bad, but I think they’ve done better funky tunes!

3. Tsuzuiteiku STORY (Symphonic Version with Karin)

The main B-side for the single is of course set for a Karin solo as she’s graduating after this single.  Interesting that she was given a new version of Tsuzuiteiku STORY (a song originally from their first album, “First Squeeze!”).  Of course the original wasn’t really all that memorable despite it was promotional material for the album, so I was curious and taking out the Indian vibes of the song and replacing it with a symphonic orchestration is a twist that’s for sure.  The arrangement is really pretty though I will give it that and Karin gives a really nice performance as well.  Though when I get to the 2nd verse, I start to hear the other members get solos and it seems the rest of the group sings in the chorus leaving the other solos for Karin in the final chorus.  Not much of a solo track anymore is it, which baffles why they titled it “with Karin”…?  It’s a nice rendition, I’ll give it that, but not what I was hoping for Karin’s I guess graduation song.

4. Borderline

The other two tracks are of course limited to which Regular edition you buy, so Reg A ended up with Borderline and once again I’m questioning why they left it unreleased for as long as it was (the song was first performed when Nanami Yanagawa was still in the group last year).  It is nice to finally get the song now and it sounds even better in the studio cut with the EDM-like upbeat nature.  Despite Nanami and Yuka only have the one solo in the 2nd chorus, Riai and Yume slid in pretty smoothly.  Still, this is a great song and I’m happy it was finally released!

5. Va-Va-Voom

While we didn’t have to wait too long for this one (they’ve been performing it since December alongside “Platonic Planet” which didn’t appear on this single *sigh*), Va-Va-Voom is a little more rockin’, but still has kind of a sassy tone to it interestingly enough.  Seriously though, Manaka and Riai are sticking out for me a lot and I’m just really intrigued by it, but I think the song could be a little faster.

 

 

Hitting the beginning of April with Juice=Juice’s single, it’s surprising that Juice=Juice is kicking it off with another graduation single, this time for Karin Miyamoto who has been a really forefront visual for the group since its inception and she’s also been kind of the front girl, despite not being a leader.  Though I can’t say that this single was all the great in the long run either.  After a while, Pop Music felt lifeless to me and slightly phoned in especially since it’s a cover of an already poorly sung KAN tune that was released in the same year >.>  Suki tte Itte yo is fine, but it’s kind of in the middle for me when it comes to the group’s other A-sides involved, same as Va-Va-Voom to be honest which was OK too.  The best the single did was with Borderline though and I kind of hope there is a version where Nanami & Yuka are on it somewhere down the line, but it’s still is a great song for them, which leaves us with this new version of Tsuzuiteiku STORY.  All I can say is that the arrangement was beautiful, but the vocal melody doesn’t quite fit entirely, but the mood is there and was happy to say that the other members were in it and it didn’t turn out to be completely a Karin solo.  What what the group will do without Karin on the next single!