Marginal #4 “IV aile” (Review)

main_fouraile

Marginal #4 are back with a new single. M#4 are still struggling to break out the slump they got in back in mid 2014 but are showing good signs of improvement with this release. After a successful “Yo-Ho!!!”, “IV aile” puts Marginal #4 once again back on the map.

img01 (1)

Marginal #4 cover

Single: IV AILE
Label: Pitagoras Production / Rejet
Release date: 09/03/16
Genre: J-Pop

Tracklist:

  1. IV AILE
  2. 未明犯 (Atom & R)
  3. To Be Loved (Rui & L)
  4. 相感図

Track by track analysis:

1 – IV AILE

If you’ve been missing the good old Marginal #4 from back in their debut days, then “IV aile” will take you down on a trip in the memory lane. Back to their pop-rock sound from their debut, “IV aile” is a refreshing title song where powerful guitar riffs, a funky slap bass line and bassy drums take over, leaving small room for heavy high pitched synths. With a more balanced and whole instrumental that puts the bass as the core of the track, synthesizers take on a secondary role, where they originally belonged when the group first released “100万回の愛革命“. There are no overwhelming parts in the instrumental which is also a plus. This was a thought on instrumental where everything from the intro to the build up, chorus, bridge and ending fell into place. Vocally it was interesting. It’s not that obvious that the key for this track is slightly lower than usual, and it could have been a bit hard for Yuto Suzuki and Naozumi Takahashi to follow up to a lower register but thanks to KENN and Toshiki Masuda‘s steady low toned performance, they matched well with each other, and the result is that perfect unison chorus. A solid vocal performance with an exciting instrumental piece. Marginal #4 are off to a great start. 4.5/5

2 – 未明犯 

The first pairs up Toshiki Masuda and Yuto Suzuki in the middle of an addictive electronic pop dance track. Yes, we listened to a lot of dance tracks coming from Marginal #4 in the past, but none of them are this well composed. Relying solely on dirty synths, strings, synthetic drums and electric guitars, this track, although rather simple in its composition, packs a massive punch. The energy brought by the synths and the unstoppable bassy drums alongside those melodic guitar licks in the chorus are enough to grab our attention, and if that wasn’t enough, the bridge is to die for with that powerful guitar solo and synth pads leading to a fabulous build up to the last chorus. Regarding the vocal performance: the chemistry between Suzuki and Masuda is real and we can feel it with this performance. Their tones blended into a steady, powerful melody and exploded in the impressively demanding chorus.  By far the best track this pair has performed. 5/5

3 – To Be Loved

The second pair up on this single brings the most technically skilled singers in the group together. Naozumi Takahashi and KENN perform “To Be Loved“, a track that is a complete 360 from the previous energizer. With sweet synth pads and a piano as the background, this ballad took our breath away. It’s impressive how a simple instrumental could be at the same time so emotional and powerful. Major props to the sweet piano solo in the bridge that really made this track win the title of best instrumental piece featured in “IV aile“. The only problem concerning the instrumental lays with the fact that in the chorus, the vocals are difficult to listen to since the instrumental track is with the volume a bit higher than usual, other than that the track is on a stellar level. Vocally Takahashi and KENN‘s mesmerizing high notes bring us close to tears and their harmonization is astounding. Do you know how to describe perfection? 5/5

4 – 愛相感図

This is not a typical track – for real. We warn you: if you think that those soothing synth pads and minimal tech elements in the intro will be a major part of the track you’ll be wrong. If you also think that track will keep that explosive energy from the chorus throughout the song, you’ll also be wrong. 相感図 really takes the concept of unconventional to a whole other level. If we can be more precise this track has three different things going on: that minimal tech intro that would quite possibly grow into an impressive pop track, then the strong pop-rock from the verses and chorus and to complete this, that intermission that is more fit for a drama CD than for a song. Although this is not an awful, out of context song, it’s just a little too much for us to take in on a first listen. Listen to this a couple of times before judging it. On a first listen you might want to scrap it but it’s actually a track that keeps a high level of energy and excitement going on. Vocally it’s a track that once again demands three kinds of performances but not a single one of the members had awkward or sloppy moments. Not the perfect way to complete this single but wasn’t this entertaining? 4/5

Final rating:4.5 stars

Going back to basics never did anyone wrong and “IV aile” is a good proof of that.

Marginal #4 are finally back on both of their feet! It’s nice to see that Rejet has toned down the fan service on their tracks, now only having minimal talk parts in between the tracks, putting a major focus on their music instead of in other elements. If you were not a big fan of those parts you’ll find yourself enjoying this single more than you expected.

As a whole the instrumentals were done with an extra care of making the vocals the main dish. With minimal elements and taking the main focus away from those annoying high pitched synths that we’re presented with in the past, this single lowers all keys and replaces those hyper, bright synths for dirty, industrial synths and, although you might think that it won’t make a difference, the thing is: everything changed about Marginal #4‘s sound. Also bringing back bassy drums, powerful bass lines and heavy guitar riffs did the rest to elevate this single to top tier status. Over thinking only did wrong to this unit in the past.

As a result the group sounds more mature and powerful than ever with their title track as well as with their pair tracks.  未明犯  and To Be Loved come off as pleasant surprises. The first one due to the pairing and the genre of the track. We never thought about pairing up Masuda and Suzuki for a high throttle electronic pop track (mainly due to the previous lacking performances when both of them were paired up) but this time they killed it with their chemistry, synced vocals and unmatched energy. On the other side we were half expecting from the Takahashi x KENN match up a ballad and we actually got it right. As the most technically fit singers in this group for slow paced ballads it’s easy to say that their vocal performances were enough to put a tear on the corner of our eyes. The sweetness and emotion on their vocals were of top tier.

This time Rejet and more specifically Daisuke Iwasaki, hit the jackpot with the chosen pairs, the title track and the lyrics. On the other side we find a refreshed MIKOTO creating the instrumentals and providing us with some impressive pop-rock tracks that show us once again why less is more.

Welcome back Marginal #4! We’ve missed the fearlessness and boldness in your sound. Vocally you are on stellar ground and instrumentally you’re once again exciting and relevant.

IV AILE is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.

Advertisements