X.I.P “Paint it Black” (Review)

L->R Kanzaki Toru (Takuya Eguchi), Date Kyoya (Kousuke Toriumi), Fuwa Kento (Satoshi Hino)
Kanzaki Toru (Takuya Eguchi), Date Kyoya (Kousuke Toriumi), Fuwa Kento (Satoshi Hino)

X.I.P keep their momentum going with “Paint it Black“, the group’s newest summery release.

Title: Paint It Dark
Label: Universal Music
Release date: 29/03/2017
Genre: J-Pop/Rock/Dance

Tracklist:

1
 Don’t Stop The Party (不破センターver.)
2
 &Goodbye (不破センターver.)
3
 ずっと…
4
 Just like honey
5
 New universe
6
 Don’t Stop The Party (不破センターver.) (Instrumental)
7
 &Goodbye (不破センターver.) (Instrumental)
8
 ずっと… (Instrumental)
9
 Just like honey (Instrumental)
10
 New universe (Instrumental)

Track by track analysis:

1 – Don’t Stop The Party

Put you hands up in the air! X.I.P. kick off this mini-album with the electronic pop tune “Don’t Stop The Party“. This time around, the group surprises everyone with a complete change in their sound. Guitars have been replaced by the powerful vocoder and synths duo. What’s more interesting about this instrumental is that, the simple absence of guitars completely changed the tide and mood for this group. If you remember “Polaris“, released back in 2016 on their single “In the Night“, this song has a similar vibe, minus the guitars and better crafted. This a track made for the summer and for the dancefloor. It’s playful and sexy in equal measures. The vocals changed significantly, losing a bit of their rawness and focusing more on sounding polished with addictive melodies and strong performances. Hino, Toriumi and Eguchi went all out with this performance even when the lyrics have more english than usual for a X.I.P. song. “Don’t Stop The Party” is that song you can’t miss on your summer playlists. 5/5

2 – &Goodbye

We’re in for a power ballad with &Goodbye. A heartwrenching goodbye comes to life with the help of melodic electric guitar riffs, the longing feeling comes by the sound of the acoustic guitar riffs, adding more drama and the strings put the finishing touches on this top song.  The instrumental alone displays well the colors of the group, the other side to their bad boy image. So who do we have helming this song? None other than Satoshi Hino, a specialist in the genre (especially as a singer-songwriter of his own ballads as part of ELEKITER ROUND 0). His low-toned vocals are perfect to lead this song, and his improved technique has enabled him to further reach out to the listener and deliver a gigantic emotional punch with ease. He brings nostalgy and sadness to the table in a way that we can’t help but to be invested in the storytelling. But let’s not disregard the efforts made by both Toriumi and Eguchi. Both of them added a nice touch to the song – Kousuke with his higher soft notes and Eguchi with solemn approach to the lyrics. This song easily has everything to be considered one of the best songs in the group’s repertoire. 5/5

3 – ずっと…

An acoustic guitar and a soft piano melody lead the way for what is yet another ballad. Satoshi Hino is solo for ずっと…, a simple rock ballad that is brings out the best in his vocals. It’s sweet and more hopeful than the previous song and that is already noticeable by the instrumental’s key and the way the song was performed, as a result Hino‘s performance shone more than usual. His low-tone is not only a perfect fit for X.I.P.‘s edgier songs, but also a fabulous addition when it comes to ballads. If you’re looking for a sweet ballad, look no further, this is the thing for you. 4.5/5

4 – Just like honey

Between the addictive bassline leading the way and the playful piano melody blending in with the background loungy synths, we’re presented with a laidback song that never ceases to impress with its feel good vibe. Despite its jazzier roots, this song is more danceable and ten times more addictive than “Don’t Stop The Party” without making an effort to be a dance track. On the vocal department, Toriumi makes good use of his smooth mid-toned vocals, adding some sprinkles of sexiness to this funky song. “Just like honey” is yet another song taylor made for this summer. 4.5/5

5 – New universe

We’re presented with EDM dance pop track “New universe” sang by Takuya Eguchi. This danceable track also has those summery vibes we’ve found all over this mini-album. The mid-tempo beat and the fresh, bass rich melody are infectious, turning the dance switch on for all of us. The song is youthful, bright (without any tacky elements) and highly addictive, tricking us into more than a couple of listens. Eguchi‘s vocal performance is just like we expected: solid, energetic and befitting, a true delight to listen to. “New universe” is the best track to complete this release. 5/5

Final rating:

X.I.P. went all out right from the start with this release. “Paint it Black” has as much of the group’s touch as it has of new things. The major changes lie with how much their sound was revamped or has morphed in this release. This time around, Satoshi Hino was the main character for 3 (Don’t Stop The Party, &Goodbye and ずっと…out of the 5 songs included in this release. We have to agree that, depending on who the center is, the whole song and vibe changes completely. Add some tweaks to their sound and we get this powerful release. Dance tracks, power ballads and funky “feel good” songs filled our ears and satisfied our needs for quality music. This diverse mix that they brought to the table was more than what we could have asked for.

For “Don’t Stop The Party” the focus was more on the electronica-oriented elements such as synths, vocoder and pads rather than on their trademark mix of pop with edgy guitar riffs. The change itself was surprising. The vocoder is such a good addition, giving a 90’s french house touch to the song and bringing back those oldschool vibes that we love so much.

&Goodbye is such a great ballad, with the right amount of longing and perfect vocal performances. The same can be said about ずっと… that, although a bit on the quieter side, was still an interesting and rich listen.

Just like honey” brought X.I.P.‘s sexy side to light by the voice of Kousuke Toriumi. We’ve said it before but we like to find these kinds of pearls on their releases. A jazzy song is a must, especially if crafted well and sang even better. “New Universe” was a nice choice to close the curtains on this mini-album. It is fun and addictive, showing yet another side to the group’s sound.

Paint it Black” is a great release, its core is solid with great melodies, addictive hooks, variety and consistent, quality vocal performances. X.I.P. show everyone that their edgy image and sound isn’t necessary to make a high quality release.

Paint it Black” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.

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Author: midorin

The Hand That Feeds HQ founder and music reviewer writing about Japanese music since 2010. Currently based in Macau SAR. Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus" was the catalyst to completely dedicate herself to writing about male seiyuu music.