We’re back with X Lied series’ second volume. Yuki Ono and Yoshitaka Yamaya are up for this lukewarm matchup that had everything to shine but was cursed by safety.
Title: ALIVE X Lied Vol 2. Label: Tsukino-Pro Release date: 28/04/2017 Genre: J-Pop/Rock/Ballad
1.ゆらら 2.プラネタリア 3.ゆらら -off vocal- 4.プラネタリア -off vocal-
Track by track analysis:
Yuki Ono tackles the first song on this release. We’re used to SOARA‘s trademark sound by now and this song clearly does justice to the group – or wasn’t Ono representing them for this matchup. Their bright pop-rock sound rooted in a mix of electric and acoustic elements doesn’t make this song standout , but its “feel good” vibe is certainly welcomed. Drums set the calmer pace for this song without forgetting to add playfulness. Ono‘s vocal performance leaves a bit of mixed feelings though. Although he’s delivering each line in a sweeter, cuter tone, the fact that he’s forcing it throughout the whole song makes everything about the vocal performance sound odd, especially for those used to his lower toned, rawer voice. This is one of the main reasons why he doesn’t stand out as much as he should and why this song falls short. 4/5
“Planetarium” is a slow paced pop song with a bright, hopeful touch to it. The instrumental relies strongly on bass – that drives the song from start to finish, adding some depth to it. Soft piano parts are joined by a sweet strings melody and minimal drums. More delicate details in the instrumental are noticeable after a couple of listens. Now, the vocal performance was a bit off. As most of the people reading our review might know, GROWTH are known for their incredibly intricate and technical dramatic ballads. The group seldom sounds below expectations. Yamaya has been one of the members that best holds the control over high notes alongside Daiki Yamashita, but going from some highlight high notes to a whole song sang in high key with nothing new to add or a surprising twist? In our opinion if the composers were going to compose a song fit for his vocals, a lot should have been made differently. This song begged for a more diverse vocal approach but we only got a simple performance. A bit of a letdown, especially taking into account Yamaya‘s potential. 4/5
This volume counts with two vocals that usually don’t shine much on their group releases – the silent helpers as we like to call them. With fairly robust vocals on both ends of the spectrum, in a group context both Ono and Yamaya seldom have the spotlight on them. Waiting to be surprised by their take on the individual songs, we were instead underwelmed by both attempts.
Undoubtly, Yuki Ono‘s vocals have seen better days. He was never a power vocal to begin with – well, not everyone is a power vocal and that’s not an issue -, but he only relies on a slightly bit of natural vibrato and vocal control to tackle his songs. That formula might work some times but it’s not infallible. And what happened is that fans were presented with a bland performance that falls incredibly short in comparison with some of the things he has been showing over the years – mainly his solo releases. This time around we noticed just how much he needs to improve if he wants to help SOARA grow more or even sound more robust. On the other side, Yoshitaka Yamaya is GROWTH‘s wild card and also, not in a good way this time around. His solo performance was far beyond what we could have expected, relying solely on his higher toned vocals, refusing to leave his comfort zone.
So what happened with this release? Ono showcased a rather uninteresting performance – instrumental and vocals didn’t match in tone at times, his tone was forced and his vocal performance was excessively on the safe side. Yamaya suffered from the same issue. Both artists played safely for their solo songs which is a pity as this was a time to shine and impress everyone – something that didn’t pan out in the end.
ALIVE “X Lied” vol.2 is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.