Feromen “MAGIC MIRROR” (Review)


FEROMEN

After a two year hiatus, Feromen are back with new music. The romantic seiyuu unit consisting of Junichi Suwabe and Toriumi Kousuke finally released their first album “MAGIC MIRROR“. We took a look at this album revisiting some old tunes as well as the new additions.

Check out our review below.

[ATTENTION: Listen to this album with earphones or you’ll get a lot of the elements lost – Feromen rely a lot on giving each earphone different things and the members aren’t usually set at the center of the track.]

We reviewed the Limited edition so the track “淫靡なる生宴” won’t be reviewed.

Regular Edition

Regular Edition

Album: MAGIC MIRROR
Label: Columbia 
Release date: 30/03/16
Genre: J-Pop / Visual-kei / Synth-pop

Tracklist:

  1. Linaria (lyrics: Junichi Suwabe)
  2. いろは唄
  3. 抱きよせてTONIGHT
  4. 懺悔室
  5. 絶愛パラノイア
  6. MIDNIGHT☆BUTTERFLY -HOSHI☆GARI mix-
  7. 禁忌の薔薇 ~Aphrodisiac~
  8. 失楽園 ~Lament for Eros~
  9. Silent Carnival
  10. ベイビー アイラブユー
  11. Boys, be fictitious! (lyrics: Junichi Suwabe)
  12. Implantation (lyrics: Kousuke Toriumi)
  13. IMMORAL WEDDING
  14. ラブソング -eternal mix-
  15. Bonus Track 懺悔室<淫靡なる生宴> [EXCLUSIVE REGULAR EDITION TRACK]

Track by track analysis:

1 – Linaria (lyrics: Junichi Suwabe)

With a theatrical intro worth of being in the credits of a classic Hollywood movie “Linaria” impresses right from the start with the dramatic and melancholic instrumental. But soon things take a different turn. “Linaria” can be explained as a modern day waltz (at least instrumental wise), relying heavily on strings, enphasis for its pizzicato and the brass instruments as well as the timpani – set to add drama to the track. But when you thing that this description is as boring as ready a shopping list, things change. Dubstep, heavy dubstep takes place in what is the strangest of bridges we’ve listened to in years. It’s only momentarily but it certainly sounds totally off before going back to its original sound for yet another chorus. Vocally this track is pretty interesting. Both Toriumi and Suwabe show improved vocals and actually sound incredibly solid throughout the whole song, even harmonizing at times. Their high notes are stabler and the emotions with which both ot them approach the lyrics are enough to make the song sound powerful. If not for that weird bridge the track would be on of the most uncommon on their repertoire as well as one of their best. 4.5/5

2 – いろは唄

What happens when you mix a shamisen, keytar, strings, a funky bass and synths? You get one of Feromen‘s best tracks released so far. Revisiting past and new influences and mixing them into a perfect blend seems to be something close to impossible but いろは唄 is proof that it’s possible. Can we talk about the timeless keytar featured on this track? For those who are not fans of the 80’s synth pop songs or weren’t born at that time, it might come off as a weird instrument that no one plays. That’s not the question with Feromen. They picked the keytar as core instrument for this track but fear not. Those guitar riffs sounded amazing right? Those weren’t made by a guitar. It’s all played on a keytar. That’s right. But if the keytar‘s unexpected feature wasn’t enough, the group picked yet another unusual instrument on a synth pop track – the shamisen. We know that Feromen are known for making unexpected music but when someone tells you a song has a shamisen and keytar together the first thing that come to your mind will probably be: what? We could talk about this tracks’ instrumental all day and we’d still have more things to notice. We don’t know why but Feromen made it possible to mix both instruments, not sound ridiculous and even pull off the whole track. Vocally they sound totally in sync and in tune throughout the track, both of them having a lot of places to shine by themselves. One of Feromen‘s timeless tracks, one where balance is key. 5/5

3 – 抱きよせてTONIGHT

[Previously reviewed] With Junichi Suwabe behind the lyrics we can only expect something highly provocative… and that’s exactly what we get with the title track 抱きよせてTONIGHT. Strings, heavy guitar riffs and a reverberating bass lead the way into this seductive track. The Spanish viola makes its entrance midway into the song leaving behind a trace of high grade seductiveness and embellishing the overall track. The simple instrumental revolves around the basics and in the end, フェロ☆メン make things simple but always in the best way possible, this track being enough proof of that. The vocal track is also simple, no need to resort to highly technical singing tricks (vibrato,falsetto) so it’s not a highly demanding track to sing but still the performance is solid, entertaining and overall seductive. 4.5/5

4 – 懺悔室

[Previously reviewed] An unlikely beginning for a song I must say. The song starts off almost like a drama CD. Junichi Suwabe introduces us to the track along with dummy-head mic usage by Toriumi taking turns with Suwabe. Around 55 seconds on the track the song really starts off. Just to add more oddness to the song: it’s fully recorded using the dummy-head mic so it’s probably better to listen to this one with some headphones on or you’ll be missing being transported to studio as soon as you close your eyes. Kind of an interesting approach to this song and definitely a new one to boot. This song was already featured on their single “禁忌の薔薇〜Aphrodisiac〜” released in 2009 and is quite an interesting track to say the least. Simple yet catchy instrumental and with this kind of mic it’s even more interesting since you get to hear the raw, completely unadulterated vocals and the guys completely playing around with the mic throughout the song making this one a different version from the original. 4/5

5 – 絶愛パラノイア

Carefully crafted strings, synth pads and a choir in the background lead the way in one of Feromen‘s top classic tracks. Released in 2011 in the MIDNIGHT☆BUTTERFLY single, 絶愛パラノイア goes towards a more dance pop in comparison with some of the releases on this album. Locked on your right earphone is Toriumi Kousuke and on the left one is Junichi Suwabe for the majority of the track so earphones are once again advised. Both members live up to the tracks’ energy and deliver a solid performance where mid tones are a rule, still not forgetting to give room for Kousuke‘s falsettos in some parts of the song. Although not perfect and a bit monotonous after two chorus repetitions, 絶愛パラノイア is still a fun track to listen to and one of their top ones. 4.5/5

6 – MIDNIGHT☆BUTTERFLY -HOSHI☆GARI mix-

MIDNIGHT☆BUTTERFLY” was all the rage in 2011 for Feromen‘s fans. The track takes on a disco road where everything is bright, adding a lot of pop elements to it. What was originally an incredibly addictive pop/disco track received some touch ups and we got this oldie sounding just as fresh as when it was released. This track doesn’t need instroduction since it’s already one of their major tracks and certainly one of those tracks that begged you to head to the dancefloor bust some dance moves. 4.5/5

7 – 禁忌の薔薇 ~Aphrodisiac~

With eerie pads, howling wolves, ringing church bells and a whole lot of things going on that 20 second intro, your expectations for this track might get high even if just for a little bit. 禁忌の薔薇 ~Aphrodisiac~ is a textbook synth pop track, not forgetting the unit’s romantic roots but also adding some electronica elements. With seductive strings, minimal synths and a mesmerizing bassline as the main core of the track, the majority of this track is as solid as you could get. Why only the majority? Well in the outro the song gets new elements and an unexpected solo. The instrumental was carefully crafted and the result is that when the vocal parts were added it even shinned more than expected. Strong vocal performance from both members leading to another top track from this group.  5/5

8 – 失楽園 ~Lament for Eros~

Kicking it off with a fragile piano and strings, 失楽園 ~Lament for Eros~ is one of the tracks featured in the powerful single “いろは呗“, released back in 2010. This track has an intrumental track where drama takes the spotlight. Resorting primarily to low notes from the piano plus violas and cellos in the background, the instrumental’s key is incredibly low and dramatic, giving an extra boost to the lyrics and vocal performance.  This track features Toriumi Kousuke as the center, being the one responsible for those high emotional notes in the tense chorus, driving this whole song into the full drama set. Junichi Suwabe follows the trend of the instrumental track providing some steady low toned vocals to the song. Top track with the right amount of drama and tension. 5/5

9 – Silent Carnival

[Previously reviewedWhere do I start with this song? Simply putting it: it’s not the best song this duo has presented us till date. What puts me off with this song is the repetitive chorus and although I’m quite fond of spanish like instrumentals (with the trumpets, castanets and the accordion but not too exaggerated), this one just simply fails to impress and becomes an awkward mess. It could be better if the arrangement was a bit different. 3/5

10 – ベイビー アイラブユー

[Previously reviewed] Toriumi pens this track’s lyrics and we get yet a different vibe to the units’ sound. “Baby I love you” shows a smoother sound with mild guitar work, heavy bass and assertive drums, all of that blended with synths – seems like a pretty elaborated piece but it isn’t – it’s a simple pop-rock ballad with pretty interesting lyrics to go along to. It’s a completely different instrumental and something the unit haven’t tried in their last releases. It’s not heavy electronic pop or latin pop like some of their previous work, it goes by a simple formula and it worked in the end, the problem is: it didn’t impress. 3.5/5

11 – Boys, be fictitious! (lyrics: Junichi Suwabe)

A track that certainly is a first one for this unit. “Boys, be ficticious!” is written by Junichi Suwabe and it shows yet another side to Feromen. With a strong rock sound alongside some pop elements, the guitars take the front stage with the melodic, heavy riffs joined by the energetic drums and clap track in the background. But what really impresses is the memorable bass line that opens up this track and is the core of this instrumental’s sound. Vocally it has been a long time since we’ve listened to a rock song performance from either of them. Suwabe due to his lower vocals fits the genre perfectly as he’s show previously with some anime character songs. On the other side we find the delicate, more prone for high notes and mid-tones, Toriumi. He managed to blend well with Suwabe giving the necessary depth to the vocal track. In the end both the instrumental as well as the vocal track are entertaining, only lacking a bit in consistency (instrumental wise). 4.5/5

12 – Implantation (lyrics: Kousuke Toriumi)

Toriumi has a history of writing romantic ballads, that is a status that he’s achieved a while back when he penned his first track, “Implatation” is no different. Kicking off with a background choir, acoustic guitars and a piano, the track shows a gentleness and pensiveness that really suits the group like a glove. The pop-rock instrumental resorting heavilly to delicate piano melodies as well as the splashy drums and melodic guitar solos, leaves a strong impression to anyone that listens to this track. It hits just the right spots in terms of emotion, instrumental, arrangement and vocal performance. Joining Suwabe‘s strong performance, Toriumi lowers his tone to fit this tracks’ tone and the result is this mesmerizing track. 5/5

13 – IMMORAL WEDDING

[Previously reviewedMajor pop song right here. This song is so good that, as I’m writing this review, it’s still on repeat and will probably be for a few more hours. The instrumental is incredibly good compared with some previous instrumentals the duo has opted to use in their singles. This time around we have house-like synths mixed with strings, a choir, piano and the electronic drums all making a right fit with Toriumi and Suwabe’s perfect combination of low toned vocals. Highly catchy chorus with both of them taking turns showcasing their flawless vocals. A catchy pop song through and through, easily the best on the single. 5/5

14 – ラブソング -eternal mix-

[Previously reviewedWe find yet another track penned by Junichi Suwabe, once again we expect something dubious – you know it -. “Love Song” is a textbook ballad going way deeper on the emotional side than the previous track. The track is built beautifully with strings accompanying the jazzy drums, piano, smooth bass and soft guitar riffs. It’s a tender, gentle track that will sway you off your feet with it’s instrumental only. If we turn to the vocal track we find a befitting performance with both Suwabe andToriumi delivering an array of emotions that we’ve never heard them do in any of フェロ☆メン ‘s previous work. And we have a winner, “Love Song” is, by far, the most complete track in this release. 5/5

Final rating:4.5 stars

Feromen are strong with this album. It encompasses their career on a perfect note. Ranging from their disco tunes to the more risqué stuff they’ve done, Feromen are really unique. It’s difficult to find a seiyuu unit that does music like they do – all because they stray away from mainstream trends and limit themselves to music they like. The result: they are without a doubt, a unit unrivalized on what they do. Unique style – who ever thought about a visual kei pop act with romantic lyrics? We’ve never seen this before making Feromen like a step ahead of others. They might not be as trendy as some other seiyuu units are, but they surely earned their contract with one of Japan’s (probably the world’s) most important labels – Columbia records. Some might say it was luck, others might say it’s because both seiyuu are already well known, but one our end we think that this is all due to the uncommon concept behind the unit and ultimately because of their classic yet modern sound. Through this 14 track album we were able to see this unit grow and show us that much more is ahead of them.

Congrats Feromen on such a top tier album.

MAGIC MIRROR is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.

Advertisements

One response to “Feromen “MAGIC MIRROR” (Review)

  1. Pingback: Fero☆Men’s Junichi Suwabe announces new projects for the duo in 2018 | The Hand That Feeds HQ·

Tell us what you think about it

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s