Kitakore, Thrive, KiLLER KiNG and MooNs make their comeback with the Best Of album “S Kyuu Paradise“. We take a look at the “WHITE” version, an addictive release with a bright, upbeat touch. From hyped dancefloor-ready tunes to crafty laidback retro pop songs, this Best Of has everything a B-Project fan can ask for.
Title: S Kyuu Paradise BLACK Label: B-Project Release date: 19/07/2017 Genre: J-Pop
- S Kyuu Paradise [new song] / B-PROJECT
- 時空の螺旋 [new song] / キタコレ
- PRAY FOR… [new song] / MooNs
- キラキラスマイル / KiLLER KiNG
- Brand New Star / MooNs
- LOVE ADDICTION / THRIVE
- Ready to YOU!! / KiLLER KiNG
- ワンダー☆フューチャー / キタコレ
- Over The Rainbow / MooNs
- 恋セヨ乙女 / キタコレ
- パノラマ / MooNs
- Maybe Love / THRIVE
- Wonderful Days / キタコレ
- Hungry Wolf / KiLLER KiNG
- Tick-tack / THRIVE
- 永久パラダイス / B-PROJECT
Track by track analysis:
1 – S Kyuu Paradise
S Kyuu Paradise is quite possibly one of the most addictive songs in the B-Project universe. It’s not often that we’re presented with such an uptempo, danceable pop song that doesn’t make us cringe. For those that have been following B-Project, their units and the anime, you’re already familiar with the overall pop slash dubstep mix that their songs usually showcase. But this time around we actually got a surprisingly good instrumental in which we can overlook the odd dubstep bridge and actually get hyped about it. S Kyuu Paradise starts off strongly with a powerful instrumental piece mixing progressive synths with minimal pads, a funky bassline and groovy synthetic drums. The instrumental progresses smoothly, delivering a powerful chorus and consistent exciting verses.
We’re surprised that with such a big lineup we actually got an impressive vocal performance by everyone. The line distribution was fairly good, putting together the right people at the right places. Kudos for Toshiyuki Toyonaga, Genki Okawa, Tetsuya Kakihara, Showtaro Morikubo, Kato Kazuki, Toshiki Masuda and Natsuki Hanae that managed to standout and were a driving force in the middle of such a talented all-star group. 5/5
2 – 時空の螺旋 / キタコレ
Kitakore get their groove on with 時空の螺旋, a pop tune with a 90’s touch provided by the synths and in which heavy guitar riffs are more than welcomed. While the instrumental shed a different light over this group’s sound, the same can’t be said about the vocal performance. It seems that Daisuke Kishio is stuck with that shouta singing tone – which not only sounds awful but also forced -, dragging down with it Daisuke Ono‘s efforts. Despite our criticism about Kishio‘s singing tone, we understand that it’s only needed to be consistent with the character he’s voicing for the series. Putting aside the off putting singing, the song is quite enjoyable and certainly that retro touch was enough to grab our attention. 4/5
3 – PRAY FOR… / MooNs
MooNs change gears with “PRAY FOR…“, a laidback song filled of good vibes in the middle of a groovy instrumental led by the mesmerizing bassline and a bright piano melody. The sweet and simple melody is more than enough to make the vocals standout, enabling the listener with clear vocals to rave about. MooNs are one of the groups in B-Project that have improved a lot since their debut. Vocally, every single one of them has been impressing us time and time again. The biggest growth comes from Toshiki Masuda, that has turned himself into an extremely reliable singer, shifting from his backup vocal position to a comfortable lead singer in just one year. Yuto Uemura has also been showing more control over his vocals now sounding stable and confident in his performances. On the other side we have the heavyweights in this group once again delivering a fantastic performance, Morikubo, Kakihara and Okawa not only lead well but they are versatile and provide addictive harmonies in the chorus with whomever they are paired with. This laidback, hopeful tune shines in this release with a beautiful instrumental and an even better vocal performance. A gem. 5/5
4 – キラキラスマイル / KiLLER KiNG
[As previously reviewed] KiLLER KiNG debut with a bright upbeat pop song, distancing themselves from other B-Project‘s unit’s more electronic driven and powerful. “Kira Kira Smile” is an upbeat track that mixes synths with guitars in a laidback track that is worthy of being featured in an anime. Instrumentally the track lacks anything innovative or really memorable. But it’s when we analise the vocals that we get to a conclusion: this track is really lacking. There’s no challenge in the singing department, no places to adlib, no vibratos or falsettos. All these members lack a certain je ne sais quoi that makes the song not that memorable and only another track to add to the the hyper unit songs that come and go. They focused too much on sounding cute that the whole track failed to impress. 3/5
5 – Brand New Star / MooNs
The funkiest song in this release, “Brand New Star” is MooNs‘ playground. A thunderous bassline greets us and sticks with us until the end, setting the rather ladiback tempo for this song as well as giving it more depth and a rocking touch. Of course B-Project‘s trademark synths are also part of this instrumental but they don’t take the front seat like in previous songs. The focus is put on the rock elements, going back to MooNs‘ pop-rock sound that we’ve known from since their debut. The drums are splashy enough and the guitars tease the listener with strong riffs up until the bridge in which we’re presented with a melodic solo. Vocally, it was time to bring out their A-game and everyone was more than up to the task. Everyone sounds melodic, bring either vibrato and/or falsetto to the game. The lines were well distributed among the members and the vocal direction for this song brings out an alluring side to this group even if, at times, the chorus sounds like it came right from Utapri. 4.5/5
6 – LOVE ADDICTION / THRIVE
B-Project‘s talented trio sings “LOVE ADDICTION” a song that surprises everyone with its slow tempo beat and beautiful melodies provided by either the synths or the piano. The melody is rather simple, relying heavily on synths and drums to guide the listener through it. We dare say that this is one of the msot challenging songs in the B-Project universe and it’s not because there’s a lot of high notes, tricky parts, belting or any required use of vibrato or falsetto (although there’s a little bit of everything we’ve mentioned on this song). Toyonaga and Kazuki have to rap their verses when neither of them is a rapper to begin with. This might sound like the result will be disastrous but we were actually surprised that both of them are fairly good at it, leaving us begging for more. Hanae, on the other side, is in charge of high notes, adding that soft, sweet touch that this song continuously reminds us of. One thing we would have loved that wasn’t on this song was the vocal manipulation with the world famous annoyance, auto-tune. As soon as the song starts, the listener is greeted with Hanae‘s auto-tuned vocals, sounding not only a bit odd but also outdated. Thankfully, the auto-tuned parts are kept to a minimum not hindering the song as a whole. All in all, “LOVE ADDICTION” is an addictive song full of good surprises. 5/5
7 – Ready to YOU!! / KiLLER KiNG
[As previously reviewed] Changing things a little bit, “READY TO YOU!!” is a bright pop-rock song that strays a bit away from KiLLER KiNG‘s trademark pop sound. Rock elements mixed with synths is a formula we find in a lot of music nowadays. Some groups pull it off, others don’t. But when the synths are overly annoying and we get that feeling that we’ve already listened to this song before when we didn’t, something is off. And not even the rock elements are the saving grace for this group. It’s good to be consistent with music releases, following certain patterns or formulas but when that has been done, time and time again, and without fresh additions, it gets easily boring. That’s exactly what this song managed to deliver: a boring performance of a song that sounds the same as some of their previous ones. Nothing new here that is really worth mentioning. 3/5
8 – ワンダー☆フューチャー / キタコレ
[As previously reviewed] KITAKORE go all-out with a rock driven song. “Wonder Future” is a pop-rock song with focus on the mid-tempo bassy drums, raging guitar riffs and strong bassline. As we’re used to, synths are a must for B-Project’s releases and we find them here as well. It’s thanks to those that the song leans more towards the pop genre in some parts, if not for that, we could be listening to a punk rock song right now. On the vocal side of things: we confess that we weren’t really expecting much from the Daisuke combo, mainly because one of them tends to force his singing into sounding something that really isn’t and the other only works well alongside certain types of voices (when he’s in a duo/duet/group situation). We weren’t particularly satisfied with the vocal performance but it was bearable. 4/5
9 – Over The Rainbow / MooNs
If you’re craving some 80’s/ early 90’s fueled pop music, then “Over The Rainbow” will be a perfect choice for you. MooNs bring brass, harp, melodic guitar riffs and a funky bassline with them. It’s nice to have the synths doing more than just make the song dancefloor-ready or sound trendy (whatever the trend is). This time around it was thanks to the synths, mainly its pads, that we got this groovy retro tune. But that’s not all to this fantastic instrumental. We have two solos! You read it well. Both the electric guitar and the piano have their time to shine through a solo in the bridge, turning into one of this song’s highlights. The vocal performance is laidback with a bright touch and while almost everyone was sounding incredibly well, we found Uemura struggling with some notes, especially on his solo parts. It’s something minimal but it does sound odd whenever he’s taking the lead, singing his parts. Other than that, the song was well performed and up to what we could have expected from this group. 4.5/5
10 – 恋セヨ乙女 / キタコレ
A seesaw synth leads the way for the mid-tempo dancefloor tune 恋セヨ乙女, song performed by Kitakore. The instrumental might sound simple but there are lots of layers of instruments and small samples in the background that can only be breakdown by listening to it more than once. The quiet verses are led by the core bassline that leads this song, in contrast we have the bright chorus with the multitude of synths parts and pads, creating a rich, deep sound. It might have been just us being a little picky with this song but the vocal mix sounds a bit quieter than the instrumental, at times making it bit hard to understand what is being sang – even when listening to this song with performance headphones. This time around we’re fairly satisfied with this vocal performance, we dare say that it’s the best Kitakore has presented us with since their debut. 4.5/5
11 – パノラマ / MooNs
[As previously reviewed] “Panorama” is a bright pop tune with a bubbly synth setting the overall mood of the song. In comparison with the previous song, this one is a bit more crowded in the instrumental piece. There is a lot of synth work going on in the background, some will only be noticeable if listen to the song more than twice. We’ll give it to you, the amount of detail in the instrumental piece is interesting, still it doesn’t save the song from sounding way too generic if we compare with “SUMMER MERMAID“. On the vocal department we need to point out that Morikubo and Kakihara really shine on this one. Out of all members in the group they have proven that experience is a good trump card under their sleeves. Both of them go all out with their vibrato and smooth vocals to lead the way in this song. Of course we’re not taking the merit away of the rest of the members but these two stood out naturally – Kakihara in the chorus and Morikubo in the verses and bridge. With a generic sounding instrumental that could have been more if only the focus wasn’t on being too bright, MooNs fall a bit short with this song. 4/5
12 – Maybe Love / THRIVE
[As previously reviewed] B-Project meets Uta no prince sama for “Maybe Love“. A song in which synths blend with a memorable bassline, funky guitars and groovy drums. The instrumental piece grabs the listener as soon as those funky riffs make way for the catchy chorus. Saying that this instrumental isn’t entertaining would be an understatement, it’s impossible to be indifferent to the energy and power this track packs. Vocally we need to point out that this track kicks off in the best way possible. Toyonaga‘s falsetto in the intro is an appetizer for a track that not only has his highly technical and controlled vocals but also features Kazuki‘s trademark sexy and powerful vocals, as well as Hanae‘s angelic high notes. Blend this all together and add plenty of vibratos, falsettos and adlibs and get this memorable track. 5/5
13 – Wonderful Days / キタコレ
Wonderful Days follows the groovy, retro trend we find on this release. The song is rather quiet in comparison with some of the previous Kitakore‘s songs but it stands out with its sweet vibe and carefully crafted old school instrumental – that brings to the table a gentle piano melody mixing it with melodic guitar riffs, simple synthetic drums and retro synths. On the vocal department we have to point out that we were surprised by Ono and Kishio‘s harmonizations. They sound great in unison, even impressing us a glimpse of their falsetto in the chorus. Kudos, major kudos to Kishio‘s vocal performance this time around. Despite being stuck with a difficult singing tone, he still went all out with ad-libs, falsetto and vibrato, he was everywhere on this song, swiftly stealing the spotlight away from Daisuke Ono. We couldn’t be more impressed of his performance than we are after listening to this song. He really gave his all and sounded on top of his game. Old school melodies and surprising performances, Kitakore have managed to impress us. 4.5/5
14 – Hungry Wolf / KiLLER KiNG
[As previously reviewed] Hungry Wolf is an upbeat pop song with a retro touch to it – especially in the intro led by the synths. A funky bassline leads the way on this tune, alongside mid-tempo splashy drums and simple guitar work. This is a track that easily reminds us of Trignal’s bubblegum pop in their early days. It brings out a certain fun element to this group while trying to appeal to a certain demographic, but it’s far from being fresh or unique in any way. Vocally there’s nothing out of the ordinary to point out as everyone sounded about the same. 3.5/5
15 – Tick-tack / THRIVE
[As previously reviewed] The clock ticks as we enter into completly different territory. Mid-tempo percussion serves as the background to a surprisingly melodic instrumental that goes beyond the simple smashing of keys on a synth. With melodic guitars, retro synths mixed dubstep elements and a sweet piano melody playing in the background, this seems like a classy electro-pop song right from the get-go. The synths don’t hinder the song in any way – if you’re worried about that in any way. Once again we have strings to add the last touches to this addictive song. Masterfully crafted and extremely well performed in the vocal department. 5/5
16 – 永久パラダイス / B-PROJECT
To complete this release we have the all-star group is back with another tune. 永久パラダイス has a completely different charm in comparison with this album’s opening track. The song is fast paced lending a lot of its energy from the synths and guitar riffs. Saying that this song is bright is an understatement. This song overflows brightness but tries to not make it sound cheesy. While the verses are interesting, the fails to grab our attention with the rather generic chorus. We only needed to listen to the first verses to understand what would happen in the chorus. The song’s progression was like many of the generic pop songs we find in the 2D group/units universe. The fact that we could predict exactly what we would get in the chorus made the experience even more disappointing. We were expecting a powerful chorus that could catch us by surprise but we got the generic, slightly annoying chorus we just listened to. If we dare comparing this song with “S Kyuu Paradise“, it will only make this song sound worse. While “S Kyuu Paradise” could have easily been a hit song if featured in the anime, 永久パラダイス falls short and is, at best, a forgettable song that didn’t meet our high expectations. 3.5/5
B-Project has, just like many of the top music/idol driven projects, a powerful, talented lineup to work with. Regardless of the talented lineup there are some problematic groups within the series. KiLLER KiNG and Kitakore have been inconsistent since their debuts, even while donning different music genres and vocal approaches.
In the past few releases, Kitakore has managed to shake off that uneasy feeling we got whenever one of their songs was up in the playlist. Both Kishio and Ono have shown their cards and they are finally getting on the right track, songs like 恋セヨ乙女, Wonderful Days and the new song 時空の螺旋 are great examples of their growth. Still we want to hear much more and even better from them in the future.
KiLLER KiNG don’t have the best lineup among B-Project‘s units. Some of the member’s inexperience is easily noticeable. The instrumentals that were handed to them aren’t the best as well. It’s not enough to have Takuya Eguchi on this group for it to be a top one. There’s three other members (Koutarou Nishiyama, Taku Yashiro, Chiba Shoya) that have to improve in order to stand out and that requires a lot of work. On the other side, it would be fantastic if, for once, the producer team would hand them a good instrumental rather than the ones they’ve been getting since their debut because when it comes to bright songs, KiLLER KiNG have been an utter disappointment.
On the other side we have THRIVE and MooNs adapting well to both dark and bright concepts. Since the focus of this Best of is on their bright songs, we’ll stick to it and leave the dark conversation for the Best Of‘s dark edition analysis.
MooNs embrace a funky, retro style that we’ve taken a liking in the past few releases. Their vocals have improved a lot since their debut and their sound, as a whole, has greatly benefited from it. The new song, PRAY FOR… showcases their growth perfectly. There’s no way one won’t be impressed with their sound and powerful vocals. Still, Uemura still needs to work a bit on his vocals for this group to take everything to the next level.
THRIVE have the most versatile and complete lineup in the B-Project series (although MooNs are closing the gap). Why is that? When you have two professional singers, Toshiyuki Toyonaga and Kato Kazuki, and one of them being an accomplished veteran singer career (Kazuki) and then you add Natsuki Hanae‘s skillful angel voice (that despite not being a professional singer has the skill to easily be one) into the mix, it’s more than enough to make anything that is usually difficult to perform being as easy as breathing for them. All of them are equipped with swoon worthy falsetto and vibrato and all of them are skilled high note hitters. With “LOVE ADDICTION” they managed to tell everyone that their talents go even beyond that. They can rap as skillfully as they hit a high notes. THRIVE are the kind of group that shines best with dark themes/concepts rather than bright ones given their vocals and charisma but their bright songs are still high quality addictive tunes.
As a whole we need to point out that the highlight, even with lots of great songs on this Best Of, is “S Kyuu Paradise“. The voices behind THRIVE, MooNs, KiLLER KiNG and Kitakore get together for this all-star performance, one we weren’t expecting to be so impressive and well performed. Our expectations were not high for this song. We refrained from listening to the previews unveiled prior to release in order to avoid spoiling our review. That was enough to be caught off guard by this well crafted dance pop tune. The line distribution and the song’s progression kept us on the edge of our seats, waiting for the next twist and what we got was a satisfying performance full of highlights, most of them in the vocal department. It’s obvious that this is B-Project‘s best song to date. The fact that their best song is the one in which all units are featured not only is an awesome feat, but also a way to showcase the franchise’s strength.
“S Kyuu Paradise WHITE” revisited their unit’s bright songs and what we got was a handful of highlights, powerful performances and impressive twists even if there were some hiccups along the way.
“S Kyuu Paradise WHITE” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.