“Lagjuliet” is finally out and we take a look at this release. With a debut year as fulfilling as 2014 Lagrange Point present us their first Best of album, an album that promises not only the already known tracks but also new gems.
Single: LagJuliet Label: Rejet Release date: 08/04/15 Genre: J-Pop/Rock
01. LUV EXODUS 02. カタストロフィ 03. 1/f(エフぶんのいち)の揺らぎ 04. Message Bottle 05. Dear Princess 06. BLACK SWAN 07. Never Sorrow 08. イチカバチカ 09. Goodbye残響(Echoes)!!!! 10. 愛、独裁-SAMURAI- 11. Shoot off 12. ワンセンテンスじゃ、挿入(はい)りきらないよ 13. 暁方(あかつきがた)に、消ゆ 14. Nan-Boo-No-Mon-Ja-E
Track by track analysis:
01. LUV EXODUS
Bringing alternative into Lagrange Point‘s repertoire, LUV EXODUS is breath of fresh air and big surprise in this release. It’s a mid-tempo track more focused in the bass and the synths – the guitars go to the background for the majority of the song only coming forward in the chorus to add even more emotion to the strong vocal performances. If you’re expecting a typical Lagrange Point track you’ll certainly will be surprised – for good or for bad depends on your personal taste regarding refined new wave music -. The vocal performances live up to this new approach to Lagrange‘s sound. It’s softer, with less guitars, more synthetic drums and more synth pads. It’s perfect for this romantic pop-rock duo. To sum it all up: it’s a top 5 best track in their repertoire, a track worth checking out and get addicted to. 5/5
Stormy intro to one of the most upbeat tracks in this single. Catastrophe is an aggressive pop-rock track resorting to the strings as the starting line for this track. This track has everything done right from the very beginning. The build up is slow but steady, building enough momentum to a mid-tempo chorus with rough guitar riffs and stiff drums. Synths are a big part of this track be it in the background putting all the pieces together or even adding spice to this track manipulating the vocal parts. It’s not excessive so it doesn’t bother the listener, by the contrary, it only adds to the track. Besides all of the previously things said about the instrumental piece, what really stands out are the guitars and the bass that, besides going almost unnoticed in the track, it’s in full bloom in the background providing a rich instrumental piece, giving the sufficient amount of aggressiveness to the track. The vocal track that is the main focus, since these guys are debuting as a unit is perfectly performed. Toyonaga and Genki deliver a powerful performance matching well with the effusive, high-voltage instrumental piece. What a way to kick off this single! 5/5
A pop-rock track resorting more to electronic elements than the previous one. The piano is a big part of this instrumental piece, providing the perfect stage for Toyonaga and Genki to shine. The guitars aren’t as aggressive as in Catastrophe, sounding more melodic and lively without upping the tempo. The bass once again plays quietly in background leading the way and blending the latin percussion together with the rest of the instruments, turning it into this addictive track. The outro is refreshing with an electronic pop feel but still giving room for the guitars to shine with a solo. The vocal track provided by this amazing duo is energetic from the very first second and the slightly more danceable track really proved out to be a nice one to showcase Toyonaga and Genki‘s vocal skills. Toyonaga gets to used his vibrato to embellish the track, Genki goes bouncing between mid-toned and the slightly high-pitched notes to deliver a bit more variety in this track and that doesn’t fail at all. An addictive track with a solid vocal performance from both sides. 5/5
04. Message Bottle
Message bottle is a power ballad in its very definition. It’s sweet with an explosive intro but quickly turning towards a slower, quieter track with the piano being the main focus making the perfect ramp for Toyonaga and Genki really shine with this flawless performance. With the drums, guitar and the bass gradually joining the piano in its journey, we really hear this track slowly building up its momentum. The guitar is melodic providing a beautiful solo in the outro. It’s a simple track but that doesn’t even take away the fact that this is a beautiful, mesmerizing, emotional track and one of the best ballad performances I’ve heard so far. Toyonaga and Genki really exceeded themselves in this track with a gentle, sweet performance that won’t be easily forgotten. 5/5
05. Dear Princess
Picking up the pace, Dear Princess is an up-tempo track that goes straight to business. It kicks off with the chorus which is a completely different structure than on the previous tracks, a breath of fresh air in this single. For those missing the fan service provided by Marginal#4, you’ve got some throughout the track (you known what I mean). The instrumental stays simple resorting to the guitars, bass, drums and occasionally strings to enrich the sound without making it overwhelming. In the outro we have a quick guitar solo leading towards the last chorus for the day. The vocal performance is top notch with Toyonaga and Genki not missing a beat, delivering verse after verse with the same energy as the instrumental. There’s some vocal manipulation here and there but, since it’s almost unnoticeable, it really doesn’t bother the listener or ruin the whole track. 5/5
06. BLACK SWAN
The place: a ballroom, the music: Tchaikovsky‘s Swan Lake Op.20-Suite, Iii. Danse Des Petits Cygnes. A better setting is impossible for an intro piece and this is the refined way we’re introduced to Lagrange Point. That classy intro is cut short as Lagrange Point make their glorified high voltage entrance with their addictive pop/rock. Black Swan is an electrifying track with aggressive guitar riffs, heavy basslines and strong drums – it’s the whole package as a rock instrumental – on the other side we have Toyonaga and Genki delivering their verses with the same energy, completely in sync and sounding way better than in their debut single. All this is great but the biggest and most impressive part of the track lies in the outro that mixes not only classic music, once again from Tchaikovsky‘s Swan Lake Op.20-Suite, but also a bassline to die for adding a bit of sexiness to this track. Following this outro we’re provided with a lightning speed guitar solo and a slower part giving space for Genki and Toyonaga to showcase their vocal skills. It’s a nice mix between classic and pop/rock without sounding off, the instrumental is at its best as well as the vocal performance delivered by this powerful duo. Black Swan, without a doubt, impresses from the very first listen. 5/5
07. Never Sorrow
And here comes a heartfelt ballad. Genki leads the way in this track alongside acoustic guitars, minimal drums and slow, emotional electric guitar riffs. This is a track where there’s a lot of place left open to explore vocally, it’s a ballad so we usually demand big vibrato and falsetto displays but, interestingly enough, this track has little of those. The sadness in these guitar riffs, giving the feel as if the guitar is crying, are the best lead to this instrumental piece. The drums are slow paced, with the bass drum making an even bigger impact reverberating in the background like an a heartbeat. The melancholy and sorrowfulness are incredibly well portrayed in this track with both Genki and Toyonaga raising up their game and delivering an incredibly powerful performance. All in all, a jewel in “Black Swan“. 5/5
The black sheep in this “Black Swan” ‘s release and we don’t need to think twice to say this, it’s more than clear that this is on a completely different level than the previous tracks, even in completely different mindset and environment. And yes, it sounds as off as I’m trying to explain. But the track repents for the bad/overwhelmingly cheesy intro with a solid body of work throughout the rest of the track. This track goes a bit more towards the electronic pop side than the heartfelt rock of “Never Sorrow” or even the electrifying aggressive rock in “Black Swan“. Is it bad? Is it good? You decide. But this track really sounds better without those humiliating 15 seconds in the intro – that is a given – the rest of the track sounds great with an engaging, entertaining instrumental, at times a bit overwhelming, but with amazing guitar work and, once again, a solid bassline that leads the way alongside the bass drum, giving a bigger impact to this track. The vocal work once again is of top tier quality with Genki showing that he can be on par with Toyonaga‘s flawless vocals. There’s a bit of battling between both of them starting in the outro, culminating in the final verses where Genki is completely on par with Toyonaga, a place where even Toyonaga‘s vibrato wasn’t able to make him sound even better than Genki. This is the kind of improvement that everyone loves to see in a singer – that time when a “not so gifted” singer manages to sing on par with someone “gifted” with a powerful vibrato or a master of falsettos – this is a joy to listen to. A track that only missed the target for a bit with that awful intro, but happily managed to get on its feet and redeemed itself, turning out to be a solid, entertaining track. 4/5
To complete this journey we’re presented with Goodbye残響（Echoes）!!!!. A track that kicks off pretty slowly almost tricking us into thinking of it going towards the “ballad route”. But to all our surprise (or not!), this track is once again a typical pop/rock piece betting on its speed to grab our attention after the classic, strings driven, intro. Goodbye残響（Echoes）!!!! has aggressive guitar riffs, unstoppable drums and a reverberating bass in the background keeping things simple. The guitar work deserves to be commended – just listen to the guitar solo by the end of the track – I tell you, it’s lightning fast and adds so much to this already great track. The vocal performance is spirited, keeping up with instrumental and making the final product sound cohesive.
Now, remember when I told you about that seductive outro in “Black Swan“? Well, this single comes full circle and so this track ends with that part where classical music blends with a fingered bass and manages to make one of the best blends I’ve ever heard. 4.5/5
Following the steps of Mamoru Miyano‘s “Identity” and Elekiter Round 0‘s 月の砂漠のジプシー, 愛、独裁-SAMURAI- features a clash of timeless titans: the rocking guitars and the traditional Japanese shamisen. An exotic mix that, if used with smarts, will make any song shine way more than your traditional rock track. That is exactly what happens in this track. Mikoto and Daisuke Iwasaki once again deliver us a superb instrumental/lyrics combo. The timeless shamisen lays down the foundation of what is one of the most robust tracks in this single; besides that we have all the best guitar work gathered in one place. The aggressive guitar riffs standing alongside the strong drums and mesmerizing bass are on fire battling against the all mighty shamisen in the chorus. Solid instrumental with addictive guitar work, especially in the outro + last chorus. The vocal performances fit perfectly with the instrumental piece with both Genki and Toyonaga drawing the most energy they can into this track making the overall result addictive from start to finish. 5/5
11. Shoot off
With a mix between industrial rock, new wave and pop we’re impressed with the best track in this release. “Shoot Off” has the all the right ingredients mixed together: the industrial synths, the new wave vibe given by the bass and electronic drums, the pop behind Iwasaki‘s lyrics and strong, aggressive rock riffs, all of this mixed with an impressive vocal performance. This isn’t a speedy track or a ballad of sorts, it’s a mid-tempo song that impresses right from the explosive beginning provided by the synths and the powerful guitar entrance into the song. A complete track in all its elements: arrangement, instrumental, vocals and lyrics. Compelling and addictive. 5/5
ワンセンテンスじゃ、挿入(はい)りきらないよ joins all the previous tracks into this amazing thread of rock that lately has marked even more prominently the unit. Fast drumming, guitar solos right from the beginning, powerful guitar riffs, a reverberating bass and passionate singing make this track a solid one and one of the best in a repertoire full of great tracks for Lagrange Point. With a dynamic and energetic performance this song never fails to entertain you. It simply lacks in the freshness and innovation that the previous tracks brought into this single, that is the only reason why this track doesn’t receive full marks. 4/5
And to complete this impressive single we’re provided with a slow paced jazzy/classic rock instrumental, a track that really impresses with its innovation and with how new it still sounds with Toyonaga‘s vocals (already experienced with the genre) and fresh with Genki, that fares extremely well for a first try with the genre. This time Lagrange Point changed strategies and instead of delivering a last track more towards the ballad genre, they upped their game and tried something new for a change. The melancholy drawn by the slow paced guitars and the piano adds up to the impressive performance delivered by the unstoppable drums and reverberating bass. Among all those high guitar riffs and splash drums, the vocal performances really add that extra bit of emotion that only them can add into this song. Genki and Toyonaga really deliver this track with their prickly and desolate emotions, making the final result a song on its own league. Emotional without aggressiveness. Flawless. 5/5
Closing this album we find another new track and once again with a new approach to boot. Nan-Boo-No-Mon-Ja-E might sound like an almost impossible name to digest but it’s only that part of this track that gets that status. This new sound – especially in the drumming execution – gives off a jazzy, classic 50’s rock vibe to this track, a new element that, although it might sound like something minimal, it makes a big difference in the final product and consequentially makes this track sound fresh. Fabulous guitar work in the electrifying outro alongside a fun vocal performance by both Genki and Toyonaga. Interesting and fun track with lots of energy. 4/5
Lagrange Point settled themselves well in the Best seiyuu unit of 2014 and without a doubt the best seiyuu unit so far in Japan. The “cast” might not be stellar like in Marginal#4 but performs equally or even better at times and with a better sound to back them up – on a live setting Lagrange Point are way more powerful than their seniors. Toshiyuki Toyonaga and Genki Okawa really have proven that they can match well with both the mid-toned vocals and the shinning vibrato plus their electrifying romantic pop-rock. It’s a formula that has given some fruits and has maintained their overall quality so far. With some risky mixes with classic pieces in “Black Swan” or the full out mix between Japanese and Occidental styles with 愛、独裁-SAMURAI-, the unit has kept their momentum and didn’t fail to impress with their new elements (best example is the new wave genre shinning in this best of titled LUV EXODUS) and performances. Call them what you want but this is the strongest seiyuu unit out there right now and this Best of is living proof of that.
“Lagjuliet” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.