“Lagjuliet II” is finally out. Lagrange Point present us their second Best Of album summarizing 2015’s activities. With a solid 2015 where they were kings on their own in terms of seiyuu units, this Best of also comes with 2015 single “Prisoner“, a turn of events that left us with mixed feelings. Now with two new songs joining last year’s hits, let’s see where this unit is headed to.
Let’s kick off this review.
Album: Lagjuliet II Label: Rejet Release date: 25/05/16 Genre: J-Pop/Rock
1.破竹の愛 2.Beautiful Phantom 3.レッドブザービート 4.愛のファタモルガーナ 5.今はGoodNight 6.愛という言葉を憎む日々が永久に続いてもオレを赦してくれ 7.惡の華 8.六十九夜 9.BLACKOUT/WHITEOUT 10.PRISONER 11.Last Chance!!! 12.Crystal Switch 13.妄想VISIONIST 14.ガイドライン
Track by track analysis:
With a grandiose instrumental, 破竹の愛 goes back to Lagrange Point‘s high throttle trademark sound that their fans love. With fast paced splashy drums, aggressive guitar riffs and a thunderous bass leading the way, this track easily earns the top spot as the strongest track to open a single/album of theirs. Strings and minimal synths complete the lineup, enriching the sound, but taking on a role that doesn’t make the instrumental sound overcrowded or unbalanced. The song explodes into an intense chorus, giving way to the high quality vocal performance by both of them. Top marks. 5/5
[As previously reviewed] With a French touch given by the intro with a fabulous harmonica, Beautiful Phantomshows Lagrange Point embracing a more laidback, melodic approach to their sound. Yes, heavy guitars and powerful drums are out of question on this track. The instrumental piece takes on a completely different approach as it resorts to the surprising, yet relaxed harmonica, strings, piano and jazzy bass, all these instruments envelopped in the mid-tempo, snare / bass drum centered drums mixed with some incredibly laidback acoustic and electric guitars. Everything’s in check with the instrumental piece, as soon as we put our focus on the vocal execution we have no remarks left. With a harmonious instrumental, Toyonaga and Genki are left with the best opportunity to mesmerize the listeners. They took the challenge head on and the result is this warm, silky performance with it’s climax straight in the chorus. A rich track with a warmth and gentleness that is a first for Lagrange Point. 5/5
[As previously reviewed] The playful レッドブザービート instantly brightens up this single. With a jazzy, elegant instrumental consisting of a jazzy bass and drums alongside trumpets, a sax, melodic guitar and piano, it’ll be an understatement to say that this track is merely entertaining. Its playfullness resulting of the classic, timeless instrumental where the contrabass leads the way, gives the listener a cinematic view of what the 50’s sounded like. It’s fun, addictive and adding the vocals we enrich the track with that smooth delivery by bothToyonaga and Genki. A mid-toned voice plus a tenor alongside a jazzy, funky contrabass and melodic sax? A sure fire winner. 5/5
[As previously reviewed] With the sitar as its core, 愛のファタモルガーナ will grab your attention right from the very first seconds into the track. A track that not only keeps Lagrange Point‘s classiness in check but also takes them to new hights, mixing not only the elements already part of their sound: the funky bass, the guitars that range between the heavy riffs and the jazzy melodies but also picked some elements that LUV EXODUS added to the unit’s rich instrumentals – mainly the synths and the guitar distortions. Pick all those elements together, add latin percussion, a sitar plus Toyonaga‘s melodic / playful vocals and Genki‘s warm vocals and we get this rich, witty track. Although the sitar might sound odd for some listeners, we recommend to really give it a try because this is by far, one of the best tracks in this release. 5/5
[As previously reviewed] We find a track that doesn’t sound like anything Lagrange Point has released so far. 今はGoodNight starts off strongly with its synths and high throttle dance momentum, instantly grabbing the listeners’ attention. Something as new as this intrumental is a first for the romantic pop-rockers Lagrange Point that we so well know for about more than a year. But as strangely as it seems, the unit pulled this track off with flying colors. The instrumental as stated before resorts mainly to synths, fast splashy synthetic drums, funky bass and melodic electric guitar, all exploding at the same time in the electrifying chorus, mellowing down on the verses to give room for Toyonaga and Genki to shine in the up-tempo track. 5/5
[As previous reviewed] “Ai to iu kotoba o nikumu hibi ga towa ni tsudzuite mo ore o yurushite kure” might sound like the worst idea for a song title, at least lenght wise as it will lead to people easily forgetting or misquoting it. Even though Rejet‘s (Daisuke Iwasaki’s) naming sense is nothing short of impressive, Mikoto makes up for that flaw and presents us a consistent and addicitive instrumental piece. Kicking off with muffled vocals and reverbed guitar riffs the track shows us a dance between dramatic vocal performances and powerful rock instrumentals in perfect balance. A choir, strings and eerie synths open up the second verse, keeping up with the momentum the song completely explodes in the final chorus after a weak bridge. There’s balance between the vocal performances and the instrumental but on the vocal side alone, Genki seems like he was struggling to do the same irregularly paced verse right before the pre-chorus as Toyonaga had done before, other than that his performance was solid. As a whole the track is right on point, a nice comeback to their trademark sound. 4.5/5
[As previous reviewed] In an industrial rock fashion, 惡の華 makes a statement: Lagrange Point aren’t always about nice romantic songs, they also have a heavier side – just listen to their pre-chorus and chorus. Those two parts are full of power and raw emotion, both drawn from the instrumentals – with speedy drums, aggressive guitar riffs and a strong bassline – and the fierce, rough vocals by both members. A first time for this unit to deliver such a powerful song. On the instrumental side Mikoto really outdid himself with that guitar solo and this hardrock track – massive props for him to finally deliver something really fitting with the unit’s imposing image. 4.5/5
[As previous reviewed] Completely changing gears, “Six Nine Night” takes us on a laidback ride where rhodes pianos are kings and jazzy rock is the main appetizer. With a soulful vocal performance in one of the thoughest tracks to sing – these guys really need to be praised for their impressive vocal work, the honeyed vocals often switching between mid-tones to falsetto’s and high notes really put this track on the spotlight. The mid-tempo instrumental features upp-tempo jazzy drums shaking things a little bit. The top highlight belongs to bridge as it features an old-school rhodes piano solo – and wow, it turned out classy. 4.5/5
[As previous reviewed] Betting once again on speedy hardrock the unit kicks off BLACKOUT/WHITEOUT powerfully. Up-tempo drums, power chords and a reverberating bass are joined by Toyonaga and Genki‘s energetic vocals. Solid, emotional vocal performance that was almost outshined by one specific thing in the instrumental piece. The bridge is the most beautiful thing Mikoto has ever composed for any Rejet unit (we dare to say, even for himself) – the emotional and heartbreaking piano takes the spotlight and really makes the listener realize what this song is about – saying goodbye. 4.5/5
[As previous reviewed] The single kicks off as darker as ever, with eerie synths in the background and slow heavy guitar riffs, this track is the first one in Lagrange Point‘s repertoire to mix dubstep, dance and rock. For those not too keen on dubstep elements or the genre as a whole, don’t worry. The dubstep elements are minimal throughout the song, only being on the spotlight in the intro and build up to the chorus. The chorus is milder than usual, we know that most of the times Lagrange Point‘s tracks usually explode in the choruses into either a powerful rock tune or a strong pop dance track. Neither of those happen here which is a nice change of pace, totally unexpected for their fans. Vocally only praises can be said. Both Genki and Toyonaga show a lot of improvement to their already good sense, chemistry and vocal execution. A breath of fresh air in LP‘s repertoire that we welcome with open arms. 5/5
[As previous reviewed] Rough, melodic guitar riffs kick off a track that promises to grab your attention right from the start. “Last Chance!!!” is, together with 妄想VISIONIST, one of the two tracks that still have Lagrange Point‘s original colors. The heavy guitar riffs, thunderous basslines and the synths giving a vintage edge to the track alongside slow paced, strong drums make this instrumental piece a good blast from the past. Of course we love the emotional pop-rock songs but when LP‘s get geared up in a rock fashion we can’t help but to be more than excited about it. The song presents some challenges, especially knowing that Daisuke Iwasaki‘s lyrics are full of english (sometimes weird/out-of-the-context english) but Toyonaga and Genki displayed us something that doesn’t usually go right for any of Rejet‘s units – english pronunciation. Everything was clear as water and we didn’t even need to grab the lyric booklet to understand what was being sang. Top marks for both members for showing improvements not only singing wise but also aesthetically. 5/5
[As previous reviewed] And now this is where things start to sound a bit shakey. “Crystal Switch” is not your typical heartbreaking, power ballad that Lagrange Point have used us to. It relies on acoustic guitars and splashy drums alongside the main point of the song: the sad piano in the background laying the heartbreaking notes into this strangely upbeat ballad. Something is amiss, we can’t quite put a finger on it but – the emotions are a bit toned down and the instrumental lacks something powerful. This is a song that would fit like a glove with Marginal #4, it just gives that youthful vibe that Lagrange Point simply don’t have, hence the strangeness of this song being sang by this duo. In the end, this track manages to get the ok from us. It’s an ok track but Lagrange Point deserved better. 4/5
[As previous reviewed] This track manages to put away the out of character “Crystal Switch” only to present us an even sloppier rock track that resorted way too much on having heavy, all over-the-place drumming rather than betting on their trademark classic rock sound. Honestly this track feels like it was lent by ELEKITER ROUND O with the sudden changes in tempo and the chorus that is making us cringe as we write this. Relying only on power chords, strong drums and heavy basslines doesn’t save this track. It’s entertaining but certainly not a track to be listening to all the time because it gets way too repetitive. 3.5/5
To complete this release, Lagrange Point release “Guideline“, a mid-tempo song where guitar riffs are mellow, the drums soft and the bass prominent. Joining these elements are some minimal synths to add gentleness to this instrumental. Mellow but sweet, this track manages to wrap up things on a sturdy note. Once again Toyonaga and Genki impress with their vocal approach to the lyrics, paying extra attention to some details throughout the song, one of them being the gradually huskier tone in which Genki lets the final notes on this track sink. While it might not be your common Lagrange Point ballad, “Guideline” turned out to be a pleasant track, one that certainly helped restore our expectations for future releases. 4.5/5
Lagrange Point still are one the top seiyuu unit in Japan. Although with some small mishaps throughout, especially in the last single, they still manage to hold down the fort against possible overtakes from groups like Unicorn Jr. or Trignal. They started to show some signs of going downhill with their previous single but it seems like it was only a one-off flick. The new tracks managed to hold down the fort well so no big issues right now regarding their music.
Turning our attention to the album as a whole: Lagrange Point have released a wide variety of solid tracks in these past few years, out of those, at least more than a half are top tier tracks hence “Lagjuliet II” sounds amazing from start to finish (despite one or two “less than good” tracks). This is a solid best of where romantic pop-rock leads the way between heavy riffs and sweet melodies.
“Lagjuliet II” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.