“ELEKITER ROUND 0 currently sound more jazzy, overall more classy than when they first started with their aggressive, dirty rock in 2010.”
Seiyuu unit /band ELEKITER ROUND 0 are back with new music and a polished refined look to go along with it.This is the band’s 5th mini-album the follow up to 2013’s “Forbidden Lover” and is titled 「顔無紳士（ポーカーフェイス）」romanized to “Kaonashi Shinshi (Poker Face)”, Consisting of Satoshi Hino and Shinnosuke Tachibana the duo has already released four mini-albums since their formation in 2010 and have established themselves as one of the most interesting, ever improving and more cohesive seiyuu units in Japan. Now off with the detailed overview of the mini-album:
Mini-album: 顔無紳士（ポーカーフェイス） Release date: 26/02/2014 Label: Marine Entertainment Genre: J-Pop / J-Pop-Rock
The tracklist is the following:
01.顔無紳士 02.Beach-pop!! 03.DIZZY PLAY 04.World's end supernova 05.顔無紳士 （日野ｖｅｒ．） ［ＢＯＮＵＳ ＴＲＡＣＫ］ 06.顔無紳士 （立花ｖｅｒ．） ［ＢＯＮＵＳ ＴＲＡＣＫ］ 07.Beach-pop!! （日野ｖｅｒ．） ［ＢＯＮＵＳ ＴＲＡＣＫ］ 08.Beach-pop!! （立花ｖｅｒ．） ［ＢＯＮＵＳ ＴＲＡＣＫ］ 09.DIZZY PLAY（日野ｖｅｒ．） ［ＢＯＮＵＳ ＴＲＡＣＫ］ 10.DIZZY PLAY（立花ｖｅｒ．） ［ＢＯＮＵＳ ＴＲＡＣＫ］ 11.World's end supernova（日野ｖｅｒ．） ［ＢＯＮＵＳ ＴＲＡＣＫ］ 12.World's end supernova（立花ｖｅｒ．） ［ＢＯＮＵＳ ＴＲＡＣＫ］
Track by track analysis:
1 – 顔無紳士
Going towards a more jazzy sound ELEKITER ROUND 0 kick off this mini-album with the title track “Kaonashi Shinshi” (Poker Face). A classy track to fit the duo’s more polished classy look. A mellow track not setting a fast pace for the rest of the mini-album. The guitar work in this track is incredibly good with a solid melodic solo and hints and bits of jazzy guitar playing here and there. Not a big track in terms of showing something new or relatively new but one that will definitely make you play the chorus over and over in your head. 4/5
2 – Beach-pop!!
ELEKITER ROUND 0 seem to have deviated from their more heavy guitar oriented sound from their previous mini-album releases and opted to use a full band oriented body of sound resorting to trumpets, piano, less heavier guitar playing and more down tempo drums (when comparing with the electrifying “Maria”). The vocal work seems to have improved and the duo’s cohesion while singing seems better than ever. “Beach-pop!!” is a good improvement when we have in mind the title track: the bassline towards the outro is incredibly good, the usage of the trumpets that only make their appearance in the chorus, is not exaggerated to the point of making you drop this song at a first listen. A track for the summer giving a good, laid back vibe. 4/5
3 – DIZZY PLAY
Back to the duo’s original sound “DIZZY PLAY” makes for a good addition to the more laid-back, jazz oriented sound in this mini-album. With a strong performance by both the instruments and the vocals we have a solid track resembling the duo’s first mini-album release titled “零ERφ” (Zero) with the upbeat drums, the ranging, aggressive guitars with fast solos and the heavily noticeable bassline joining to all this come the fast, piercing vocals delivered by Hino and Tachibana. An interesting addition to the mini-album without a doubt. 4/5
4 – World’s end supernova
A track more pending for a more aggressive, rock oriented sound than the previous ones. With an instrumental heavily bass-driven we have a track that shows the band exploring other avenues in their sound with the raging guitars giving a more punk-rock twist with aggressive riffs and plenty of solos to fit the energetic drums. The guitar solo in the outro is a great addition to a track that was already a pretty strong one in this single. Regarding the vocal work it’s worth mentioning that both Hino and Tachibana sound good blending well with the track. 4.5/5
Final rating: 4 /5
The growth that this duo keeps showing us is something overwhelming. They not only look good but they sound good in this mini-album. Not something really over the top like “孤独の太陽” but still an interesting mini-album.
This time the duo didn’t opted to have solo tracks like in the previous release where Satoshi Hino wrote and performed “月夜の仮面舞踏会 ～Masquerade～” and Shinnosuke Tachibana penned his “Loveless Diva”. This is a duo mini-album in its very essence. They take a different turn and opted to deliver also a slightly different sound when looking at the duo’s previous releases. ELEKITER ROUND 0 currently sound more jazzy pop, overall more classy than when they first started with their aggressive, dirty rock in 2010. Might be a downside for some, might be a big improvement for others but the truth is that the duo is now focusing more into making a more whole band sound, not that much focused on synths and pads but taking into equation the usage of more in studio instruments such as the trumpets, strings (that was really highly noticeable in last year’s release). Also there’s no sign of the more mellow, ballad like tracks that Shinnosuke Tachibana excels at writing like with “少女と箱の唄” in this release.
Was it worth waiting so much time for this release? For those looking for a more pop/jazz oriented ELEKITER ROUND 0 of course it was more than worth, for those looking for the rocking, seductive duo from the “Forbidden Lover” days you may turn around because this release doesn’t go in that direction.
Truth is, we expected a lot more out of this mini-album. All that hype behind it even after its release was delayed and then we’re presented with this mini-album. It’s hard for be it a band or a unit to make a release to match or overcome their “ultimate”, “masterpiece” work. ELEKITER ROUND 0 found themselves with a lot of hype behind them because of the impressive 2013’s release of “Forbidden Lover” that, by many, is by far the unit’s best mini-album release to date. There was a lot of pressure behind the responsibility of releasing something as relevant as their “masterpiece” and they manage to somehow present us something at least interesting but clearly not something to make our jaws drop in awe.
With this release “Forbidden Lover” still comes out as the duo’s best mini-album release to date while “Poker Face” simply makes us, at times, cringe with the lack of a really good, mesmerizing track to say the least. In return we get some interesting tracks but nothing really worth mentioning as a highlight. If their new sound is explored further maybe we can expect a big release next month. We’ll have to wait to see if this is the duo’s new direction or simply an experience with their sound.
Should we get our hopes high for next month’s release? Probably not that much. Let’s go with a blank slate and no expectations whatsoever and let’s see how “Kyoso Rondo” turns out to be and if, in the end, it makes up for this slightly weak release in ELEKITER ROUND 0’s repertoire.
「顔無紳士（ポーカーフェイス）」 is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.