Pythagoras Production “Shuffle Best” (Review)

rejet_shuffle_best

To wrap up 2016’s Shuffle unit project, Rejet decided to release “Shuffle Best“, a Best Of that features all the singles released by Nebulas, Wonder Corona! and My Milky Way.

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Title: Shuffle Best
Label: Rejet/Pythagoras Production
Release date: 21/06/2017
Genre: J-Pop

Tracklist:

01. ビバ★ラッ★チュ [Wonder Corona!]
02. 裸足のDestiny [Wonder Corona!]
03. 星だけが知る [NEBULAS]
04. POLYHEDRON -Stay Foolish Night- [NEBULAS]
05. まじかるルルルル♪ [My Milky Way]
06. カガミノナカ [My Milky Way]
07. サマジェラ [Wonder Corona!]
08. HANABI [Wonder Corona!]
09. カナリヤ [NEBULAS]
10. Ing... [NEBULAS]
11. カシマシLOVE [My Milky Way]
12. Hand in Hand [My Milky Way]

Track by track analysis:

01. ビバ★ラッ★チュ [Wonder Corona!]

[As previously reviewed] We’ve often said that whenever Mikoto brings out latin elements to the table, Rejet‘s units instantly shine. It’s exactly what happens to the title track “Viva La Chu“. The rhythm is what drives this track. With this instrumental piece it’s safe to say that there is really an instrument that stands out from others. With splashy drums, bongos, acoustic guitars, brass, piano and a multitude of things that you’ll probably miss on a first listen just like us, this instrumental is a full fledged latin pop track. Vocally the three members are in unison in the chorus with no one really standing out. In the individual lines each one of them exudes a certain “feel” that you might not be expecting – if you’ve been following their group/solo careers. As a whole this truck sums up a really entertaining experience: funky, danceable instrumentals with basically no synths around to hinder it, plus vocals to match up its energy. 4.5/5

02. 裸足のDestiny [Wonder Corona!]

[As previously reviewed] Putting aside some of the latin elements, we find 裸足のDestiny, a track where synths take the forefront. In an electronic, dance fashion, the synths lead the way alongside the mid-tempo synthetic drums and guitar riffs. In comparison with the previous track, this one loses a lot of its energy in favor of a more vocal centered track. It’s clear this track has Genki Okawa as the lead, the chorus centers around him as well as the adlibs. Regarding the whole vocal performance there’s not much to state as the quality pretty much maintains its standard from the previous one. Instrumentally the track lacks a bit and gets a bit annoying with the background looping synth. It would have sounded a bit better if they’d toned it out a bit. Other than that, this is an entertaining song with some interesting vocal performances to go with. 4/5

03. 星だけが知る [NEBULAS]

[As previously reviewed] With tender piano notes looping in the background, “Hashi dake ga shiru” has a rather long intro (40 seconds), slowly building up his rhythm to what is a powerful emotional chorus. With minimal synths, the instrumental piece puts the piano as the center piece, building up around it with strings, minimal drums, a melodic electric guitar and a rich bass line. With all these elements layed out the instrumental piece doesn’t steal any spotlight to the vocal performances, instead it makes them shine even more. Vocally what can we say? It’s a smooth performance with three different voice colors gathered in one place, giving their best right from the bat. There’s no need for exaggerations or resorting tricks to stand out, the parts are divided in a way that every single one of them has enough time to showcase their qualities, and what a surprise fans got! Every single one of them was able to approach this track with an incredible amount of emotion while displaying it in unique ways. As a whole we don’t have a single complaint. Top quality performance. 5/5

04. POLYHEDRON -Stay Foolish Night- [NEBULAS]

[As previously reviewed] With a gated seesaw synth as the lead for this track, “POLYHEDRON -Stay Foolish Night-” is a complete 360 from the previous track. Ethereal, futuristic and addictive, this track is the best to show the group’s versatility. Counting with a strong instrumental featuring several synths working on the background as well as the lead, one wouldn’t think that the bass would play a major role on this track. The powerful bassline makes this track sound balanced from start to finish. The instrumental alone will take you to the dancefloor as soon as the first notes hit you. A decent build up rises the tension of this track, leading to a poweful chorus that will grab your attention. On the vocal side we have the whole group rapping their parts at a fast pace to match the instrumentals’ energy, but there’s also a space to showcase their melodic vocals – be it in the pre-chorus or even on the chorus. In the end, both vocal and instrumental tracks are alone impressive, but what about together? It’s flawless. 5/5

05. まじかるルルルル♪ [My Milky Way]

[As previously reviewed] From where do we start talking about this track? The instrumental is rather simple featuring brass elements and a mix of timpani and synthetic drums. If it was only that this track could have been a little bit easier to listen to. Those looping glitched synths sadly took the front seat of the track and only stopped when the track was over. If you want a “cute” instrumental piece then you’re going to like it, if you don’t… We’ve warned you. It could have been bright without being annoying. While trying to avoid the cheesiness that some “bright” or “cute” songs tend to have, they made a full out strike on the “annoying” part. But if you thought the instrumental was bad then you haven’t heard the vocal performances closely. It pains us to listen to these three trained singers (KENN and Yuto Suzuki with singing background and Toshiyuki Someya with musical theatre experience) being given instructions towards turning their tone cute. If they weren’t forcing that higher register throughout a major part of the track, this could have been a salvagable track. But that didn’t happen. 2.5/5

06. カガミノナカ [My Milky Way]

[As previously reviewed] Keeping up with the theatrics, カガミノナカ kind of strays away from that mess of a title track, although in the first seconds it seems to pick up from where they left it. Thankfully things changed and for better. Enlisting help from synths and strings, this track put aside those glitched synths and replaced them with synth pads, blending them with the timeless quality of the strings and those minimal splashy synthetic drums. In the end the instrumental piece was slick, smooth and easy to the ears. This time the vocal register for every single one of the members was  the correct one. There was no forcing high notes or cute tones, instead we got all three of them unleashing those smooth, honeyed vocals. Result: a pleasing performance and instrumental that saved this single altogether. 5/5

07. サマジェラ [Wonder Corona!]

[As previously reviewed] Celebrating Summer “Samajera” (Summer Jealousy) is the new track in town. The trio tackle what is one of their best tracks to date. Resorting to a mix between synths and electric guitars, the instrumental piece is actually exciting without being overwhelming or annoying. With a powerful chorus and mild, tension building verses, “Samajera” won us over with its chorus. The vocal performance on that specific part left us with out mouth wide open. Although all members are active in their respective units we were surprised with Okawa‘s improvements. What improvements? If you take your time to listen to this song and pay enough attention to his parts, he’s sounding completely different from his usual singing tone, he’s more melodic, less nasal and lending a bit of roughness to the chorus – things we don’t listen when he’s performing with Lagrange Point. Adding Okawa‘s brand new, improved vocals to Aoi‘s stellar melodic, groovy vocals and Masuda‘s ever improving ones and mixing it with the pop-rock, fresh and exciting instrumental, and you get this catchy song. 5/5

08. HANABI [Wonder Corona!]

[As previously reviewed] Despite the strong dance pop driven intro, “Hanabi” still has a major presence of guitars, being the acoustic ones in the intro or the electric ones in the chorus, providing more depth to the background. The mix between synths and acoustic guitars turned out to be surprising soothing and with the steady, melodic vocals, it grabbed our attention. In comparison with “Samajera“, the chorus is a bit milder, putting the synths on the front seat for what is a bright, fun song. As a whole this track fails to outshine the title track but was still a solid track. 4/5

09. カナリヤ [NEBULAS]

[As previously reviewed] “Canaria” is a slow tempo pop-rock tune that relies on simple synths and a tender piano melody as its core instrumental elements. Carefully, Sawashiro, Naozumi and Toyonaga take turns to tackle this emotional track. With a heartbreaking chorus that follows the same tempo as the part A of the track, we’re presented with a slow, tension building song where the vocal performance is certainly the main dish. It’s a beautiful, sweet track that really enhanced these three stellar vocals by more than an inch. Nebulas is by far the only Rejet unit to have title tracks that aren’t rocking or dancing tune. Instead they opted once again for a slow tempo pop ballad that really made every single one of the voices stand out stunningly. And the result was this flawless track. 5/5

10. Ing… [NEBULAS]

[As previously reviewed] After a quiet track we’re presented with “Ing…“, a track that brings back the rock sound that lacked a bit on their first release. This track has a faster tempo, the instrumental is mid-tempo while the vocal performance requires several shifts in tempo, ranging from mid to high tempo. The addictive guitar riffs will grab your attention right from the bat in this rocking tune. Looking at this track we notice that this is a nice shift from “Canaria” as it lets go of all those emotions and embraces a more explosive demeanor to deliver an exciting song. Still it’s not enough to top the title track in terms of vocal execution. 4.5/5

11. カシマシLOVE [My Milky Way]

[As previously reviewed] With a funky bass taking the lead for the first time on a MMW release, we’re presented with “Kashimashi Love“, a track that easily makes us forget the messed up debut release by this unit. Well, besides the funky bass that is really at the core of this track, we also need to point out the synths, something that seems to be essential for this cross unit since day 1. But if you’re thinking “oh god, the synths will be annoying again“, then don’t worry. They don’t hinder the song to the point that you’ll want to change songs. In result the instrumental mixes a bit of synth driven pop with the technicality of the slap bass, a mix swiftly done that will grab your attention. Vocally we need to thank the gods. There’s no more “cute” way of singing within this song, which is a blessing. Everyone sounds incredibly well and melodic throughout the whole track, a delight to listen to. 4.5/5

12. Hand in Hand [My Milky Way]

[As previously reviewed] On a quiet note, “Hand in Hand” exudes a different charm from this unit. With a simple instrumental rooted on a looping delicate piano melody, each and every member gets to showcase his vocals without anything distracting in their way. The instrumental alone is pretty basic and laidback, sounding cute and sweet without being obnoxious to the listener. Vocally we have everyone on point delivering each of their lines in a gentle, careful way – even Suzuki that was asked to sing in a “cute” way again. This track is a tie with the title track in terms of quality. Despite the fact that this instrumental is simpler than the previous tracks’, it doesn’t lack as much in the vocal department as you’d expect (despite IwaD insisting on changing the vocal tone when everything would have sounded well if it wasn’t changed). It turned out to be an interesting track. 4.5/5

Final rating: 4.5 stars

If there’s something this Best Of made us realize was that all this cross units have their flaws (some of them more flawed than others). NEBULAS are by far the best cross unit among the three, followed by Wonder Corona! and then by the shakey My Milky Way. NEBULAS released two singles close to perfection. The unit not only was blessed with power vocals but also with good instrumentals. Wonder Corona! have shown growth between singles, standing well on their own thanks to “Samajera“. My Milky Way are still the most complicated case in the middle of all these shuffle units. There was no vocal chemistry. Everybody seemed distant in their performance. There were some mistakes and ultimately it was a bad choice from Daisuke Iwasaki when he decided to pair these three members with a cutesy concept. Making bad use of the good singers he has in his roster is something quite impressive in its own twisted way. Someya is a talented musical actor, KENN and Suzuki have/had solo careers and are quite active in seiyuu units. Looking at the lineup many might have thought that maybe these three members could impress everyone with their prowess. Expectations were completly thrown to the gutter with the first release and “Kashimashi Love” although having played a big role in redeeming the unit, doesn’t sound that fantastic as a standalone.

All in all, this shuffle project served as a means to polish all the units. We don’t know if it’d do any good continuing with this project instead on focusing on unit releases. Even with their flaws, Marginal #4, Lagrange Point and Unicorn Jr. stand best as themselves not in a cross unit project like this one.

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