SYRUP are the second unit to debut from Rejet‘s newest project “Forbidden Star“. Hiro Shimono and Yuki Kaji take the wheel of this duo in what was an unexpected collaboration that still has a long way to go.
Single: SWEET LABYRINTH Label: Rejet Release date: 24/08/2016 Genre: J-Pop
01. SWEET LABYRINTH 02. Honey Better Half 03. ミニドラマ「It is nothing with two」
Track by track analysis:
01. SWEET LABYRINTH
“Sweet Labyrinth” manages to deliver a mid tempo track that is sweet enough to match the bland vocal performance. The instrumental piece by itself is nothing extraordinary or even praiseworthy. It’s a typical bubblegum synth-driven pop track with some guitars to amp it up a bit. Nothing fancy but enough to make the song listenable and sweet. Vocally we need to point out that, while we’re not big fans of Shimono‘s “cute” singing tone, he kind of blended well with Kaji‘s deeper tone on this song. A warning though: if you’re looking for something fresh and impressive this is not the thing for you. If you fancy pretty pop track, a typical pop title track, then this will be your cup of tea. 3.5/5
02. Honey Better Half
Taking a ballad road, SYRUP delivers “Honey Better Half“, the best track on this release with a tender note. Relying on acoustic guitars, strings and a melancholic piano melody, this track shines from miles away. Everything that was missing in the first track was right here, although a bit inconsistent at times, but it was still here. Regarding the instrumental: this track is certainly a ballad, with its main focus on everything acoustic. This is a difficult genre to tackle, especially for singers with a weak/undeveloped technique. Kaji tackles it with confidence but Shimono struggles to hit some notes, especially the lower ones, sometimes sounding like he’s whispering instead of singing. Other than that the vocal performance was rather consistent and satisfying and matched the solid, emotional instrumental piece. 4.5/5
After listening to this release we just can’t help but to wonder what was going on on Daisuke Iwasaki‘s mind when he thought this would be a good match-up or even a good concept. If this was a duo created based on popularity alone, then it was well done as both Kaji and Shimono usually attract a lot of people to whatever they do (regardless of quality). But if it’s about vocal quality/technique we have our doubts.
Kaji has been on a couple of vocal endeavors in the past (G.Addict for those who don’t remember) and sometimes sings character songs for some anime he’s featured in. Nothing astounding, he’s got a nice deep tone when singing but that’s it. He might be a fabulous seiyuu but on the singing department he seriously lacks consistency. The same happens for Shimono that either is asked to sing in a “cutesy” tone, far away from what he really sounds like comfortably singing, or in a lower register which isn’t really his best. His tone is clearly higher than Kaji‘s, which isn’t a problem at all, but when you ask him to sound “cute”, you completely waste his vocal skills and make him sound annoying. This isn’t anime in which he may sound good. This is a song and regardless of what is the aim of it, sounding cute shouldn’t have been a priority.
There’s some people that might be fond of both actors and might take this final critic the wrong way, but this unit is a bit like My Milky Way – forced cuteness for the title track immediately “tanking” the group, then serving a ballad to try to save the release, a ballad in which no one is singing in a “cutesy” tone (thankfully). This formula is just like someone shot their own feet and then try to solve everything with a bandage alone.
We can only hope things turn around for the next release and that either IwaD realizes that Kaji and Shimono sound best when singing with their natural vocal register or that the instrumentals change drastically and they enlist someone else to compose something fresh for them. The next release will be crucial to see how SYRUP will fare among their fellow Rejet units.
“Sweet Labyrinth” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.