“Orange” is Tetsuya Kakihara‘s first full album, an album that only brings “SAICHAINA” back (it’s common for artists to re-release some of their previous singles with their following albums), instead Tetsuya brings us a load of new tracks to enjoy. Let’s kick off this review.
Single: orange Label: Kiramune Release date: 28/11/15 Genre: J-Pop/Rock
Track by track analysis:
1 – レッスンAtoB
To kick off this album Tetsuya presents us a funky pop-rock track with a mix of rap vocals and addictive singing. The instrumental is actually incredibly addictive – the funky guitars and splashy drums lead the way, adding the rhodes piano here and there to show a more retro-rock sound. But the thing that really get’s you, and this is actually pretty funny by itself, are the lyrics. Not only the vocal performance is entertaining but the lyrics and how some parts were sang/acted made this song reach a whole new level of hilarious – check it for yourself, you won’t be disappointed. One of the most original ways to kick off an album. 4/5
2 – 愛がモットー
Keeping up with the rock sound, “Ai ga moto” shows us a mid-tempo upbeat 90’s punk-rock splashy tune. With a simple formula and instrumental, this track manages to make you bang your head along it – it’s fast guitar riffs and the simple drumming are just enough to get you in tune with this track. On the other side Tetsuya just nails everything – his vocal performance is incredibly energetic adding an extra flavor to the already upbeat instrumental piece. Nice and funny, a joy to listen to. 4/5
3 – 僕さ
Bringing back Tetsuya‘s pop sound, “Boku sa” leeps up the good mood set by both previous tracks but milding up a bit in the instrumental piece. With the pop/punk rock elements toned down, this track keeps things simple but interesting: a rhodes piano as the backdrop for the rest of the intruments was an exciting addition to the already captivating instruments. On the vocal side we need to point out Tetsuya‘s falsetto throughout the song that genuinely impressed us – that is some serious improvement on his behalf. Solid vocal performance with a mild pop tune. 4/5
4 – ORANGE
The title track keeps things mild, “Orange” is a ballad most fit for Tetsuya‘s improved soothing vocals. With a sweet instrumental piece resorting to strings, piano, soothing synths and minimal drums, this track has everything it needs to shine by itself but the best point is the flawless vocal performance delivered by Tetsuya that is really stepping up his game with an even more controled tone. 4/5
5 – BORDER RAIN
Following a thunderous bassline, “Border Rain” builds up on the rock energy brought by this album. In a punk rock fashion sounding almost like the good old VAMPS, the fast paced drums and powerful guitar riffs complete this simple instrumental piece. With a perfect arrangement this track has not only a strong build up to the chorus but also delivers a strong chorus, the only thing that was a bit of a let down was the guitar solo in the bridge that lacked power and / or emotion, other than that this track is the best in the album. The vocal performance was as expected by Tetsuya when faced with a rock track – impressive and fierce, keeping up with the momentum given by the instrumental piece. Solid, solid work in what is the best track in the album. 5/5
6 – monogram
And the complete surprise in this album is “monogram” by far. If you were expecting yet another rock track then you’re in for yet another massive surprise. Dirty synths, powerful guitar riffs and a progressive techno beat in the background really overwhelm you as soon as the song kicks off. This track kind of remind us of the “Continuous” era when Tetsuya was deeply involved into making powerful dance performances. The pre-chorus shines in the midst of a powerful dance track like this one with its acoustic guitars. On the vocal side Tetsuya impresses with his improved vocal skills putting a little bit of falsetto‘s here and there in the track to raise the tension. In a song that might be a deal breaker for some, we still find it quite interesting for him to have tried to change things a little bit and opting for a industrial rock sound more dance oriented than anything he’s done on this album. 4.5/5
7 – BRIGHTNESS
To quiet things down a bit “BRIGHTNESS” is a bright pop-rock track with a milder instrumental piece that put the heavy guitar riffs and dirty synths completely aside. With melodic guitars, splashy synthetic drums and strings to flower the song up, this track seems to weirdly fit Tetsuya‘s vocals – still it doesn’t fit with his strong image as a performer. The instrumental’s highlight resides on the incredibly melodic and emotional guitar solo in the bridge. 4/5
8 – 咲いちゃいな
With a simple melody provided by the piano alongside a whole acoustic setting,Saichaina is a pretty mellow, mid-tempo pop-rock track. Sweet with the minimal synths and at the same time melodic with the piano, on the other side the acoustic guitars give a laid back feel to this track – it completely screams “it’s spring” with its bright composition and vocal delivery. While it’s true that Tetsuya Kakihara has already sang this kind of tracks before, it’s also true that this is the first time that both the instrumental and the vocal performance are incredibly strong. Impressive song with a vocal performance to back it up. 5/5 – As reviewed here.
9 – 飛行機雲
With a laidback instrumental piece 飛行機雲, keeps up the album’s trend – delivering strong alternative rock songs. It starts off with acoustic guitars as the core of the song but quickly builds up into something more exciting with pianos, drums, and melodic guitar riffs. The chorus is the highlight of the track both instrumentally and vocally – with so much energy and emotion in one small part of the song, really grabbing the listeners’ attention. 4.5/5
10 – またあした
Kicking off acoustically, “Mata Ashita” is the right track to complete this album. Slowly and sweetly Tetsuya delivers his verses while the slow paced and minimal instrumental – consisting of drums and muffled guitar riffs – makes his background soothing. With this ballad Tetsuya shows how well versed he is and how much he has improved since his debut. Hitting high notes, adding falsetto‘s and managing to keep up with his tone as steady as ever, this is an improved Tetsuya showing everyone that he’s not just another seiyuu turned musician. 4/5
Starting off big and ending up strongly we couldn’t be more impressed and satisfied with Tetsuya‘s first album. This is an album that knew how to keep up the momentum right from start to finish, never presenting us with a dull moment. A consistent album that provided lots of interesting moments: be it for the total surprise titled “monogram” with its dirty synths, giving hints of industrial rock or even the VAMPS’ inspired track “Border Rain” that really highlighted how great Tetsuya sounds when singing rock songs. Bringing “Saichaina” back was also a great choice to make this album reach yet another level in terms of execution.
With Tetsuya finally embracing rock as whole, it’s time for some great songs to be released in the future. Although he sounds good singing electronica/dance songs, it’s with rock that he sounds at his best.
Is this album a good contender for “Album of the year“? For sure this is an album worthy of at least #3. It might not be perfect but it is solid as a whole and really worthy of praise.
“Orange” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.