B-Project “S Kyuu Paradise BLACK” (Review)

Kitakore, Thrive, KiLLER KiNG and MooNs make their comeback with the Best Of album “S Kyuu Paradise“. We take a look at the “BLACK” version, a release that is as shaky as it is satisfying. 

Title: S class Paradise BLACK
Label: B-Project
Release date: 19/07/2017
Genre: J-Pop

Tracklist:

  1. S Kyuu Paradise [new song] / B-PROJECT
  2. the one&only [new song] / THRIVE
  3. Blooming Festa! [new song] / KiLLER KiNG
  4. Vivid Scenery / キタコレ
  5. Twinkle☆Bingo / KiLLER KiNG
  6. 3・2・1 JUMP!! / THRIVE
  7. Glory Upper / MooNs
  8. Needle No.6 / THRIVE
  9. Mysterious Kiss / キタコレ
  10. 極上フィクション / KiLLER KiNG
  11. Karma / キタコレ
  12. dreaming time / THRIVE
  13. SUMMER MERMAID / MooNs
  14. Break it down / KiLLER KiNG
  15. ラブ☆レボリュ / MooNs
  16. 無敵*デンジャラス / 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 – the one&only / THRIVE

the one&only” showcases a different THRIVE than we’re used to. They trade their dark and slightly sexy sound for a more upbeat and brighter instrumental. Strings bring drama to the table for this song, a track that has some early 00’s pop music sound with its simple beat provided by the synthetic drums and the background synth work. This is a rather simple and uncharacteristically song coming from this group and even if the vocal performance is good, the song as a whole fails to be interesting and engaging. A disappointment coming from one of the most stable groups in the B-Project franchise. 3.5/5

3 – Blooming Festa! / KiLLER KiNG

KiLLER KiNG bring their overly bright sound for “Blooming Festa!“. Hyper, progressive synths blend with funky guitar riffs and a simple, upbeat mid-tempo beat. This song has a “party” mood as soon as it kicks off, and the group’s preppy performance plays a big role in making that energetic vibe come to life properly, even if the instrumental might sound a bit cheesy at times. The group is still a bit shaky in the vocal performance but manages to deliver an okay performance with some interesting parts – mainly the unison falsetto in the chorus. Interesting and ear catching. 4/5

4 – Vivid Scenery / キタコレ

[As previously reviewed] “Vivid Scenery” kicks off strongly with guitar riffs leading the way for the gentle piano melody playing in the background. With a brighter tone this song surprisingly manages to not sound appealing at all. The verses are nice with acoustic guitars, minimal synthetic drums but the chorus sounds a bit over the top ridiculous. The vocal performance is a clear downgrade from the previous song. Daisuke Ono manages to pull through this song with a solid performance but Daisuke Kishio is a whole other story. Singing on a higher key and sounding “cute” at the same time are two things that 99% of the times don’t go well together, especially when you’re not particularly skilled in one (or both) parts of the performance. Listening to Kishio‘s high pitched vocals is not a thing we’d suggest you to attempt. 3/5

5 – Twinkle☆Bingo / KiLLER KiNG

[As previously reviewed] Putting aside the bubblegum pop from the previous track, we’re presented with an energetic pop-rock track in which raging guitar riffs take the front seat (ultimately delivering a satisfying solo in the bridge), being aided by the exciting bassline and up-tempo drumming. Synths take a bit of the background work this time around, making the unit sound a little bit better. In terms of vocal performance there are some awkward parts, mainly due to lack of control of Taku Yashiro and Chiba Shoya’s vocals. 4.5/5

6 – 3・2・1 JUMP!! / THRIVE

[As previously reviewed] Breaking away from B-Project‘s trademark synths, THRIVE present us a pop-rock track where guitars take the center stage, not forgetting a funky bassline and mid-tempo, splashy drums. A rhodes piano takes turns with the synths to enrich the tracks’ sound. In the end this track, although with a completely different music genre as the previous one, is engaging and entertaining. And why is that? Well this is a genre that not only is extremely common for soloists – Toyonaga and Kazuki alike – but it also leaves more room for the vocals to shine while remaining catchy. The trio took the chance and delivered a solid performance on this pop-rock tune. 4/5

7 – Glory Upper / MooNs

Glory Upper” welcomes everyone with a brass explosion. But fear not! Their rock sound is still there. Playful guitar riffs and energetic drums with the bass adds depth to the instrumental. For those of you that aren’t fans of brass this song will be a bit painful to listen to because they are an important element for this song. If it doesn’t bother you then this song will be extremely fun to listen to – mainly because it has that upbeat mood that is common on anisongs. The vocal performance is energetic and entertaining. 4/5

8 – Needle No.6 / THRIVE

[As previously reviewed] The dubstep-ish drum loops, synths and stylish guitar riffs set the song’s slow pace, gradually increasing the tension in the song as we progress to its end. You read it well. To its end. This song bears by no means a conventional pop song structure nor a rock one. There’s no set notion of bridge, intro, chorus, verses. The chorus enters into play at a later stage into the song. There’s no weird transitions thanks to this. It seems like an abridged version of a song or even a dance song structure with minor focus on the structure, putting an emphasis on the overall daring feel. Needle No.6 can sound ominous at times, especially in the way the song progresses but its instrumentalization – mainly thanks to the guitar riffs and synths -, is a major winner on how the listener gets invested on this song. Yes, it has dubstep elements, all of their songs so far have had them so it’s no surprise. But those elements are well balanced with the rocking guitar riffs that had a toughness, an edge to up until now, THRIVE have hinted at but never really achieved. If that wasn’t enough, the vocal performance embraces this song’s mysterious feel. A really captivating opening song. 5/5

9 – Mysterious Kiss / キタコレ

A delicate piano melody welcomes the listener alongside retro synths and melodic guitar riffs. In comparison with the previous songs, “Mysterious Kiss” is quieter with its simple instrumental with no dubstep elements to hinder the listening experience and more focus on the guitar and synth work. We notice some latin influences in the instrumental but those are minimal. When it comes to the vocal performance, Kitakore manage to cause a good impression with their approach – even if Daisuke Kishio‘s vocals could have sounded a little bit better. Entertaining, slow paced cute-meets-sexy song. 4/5

10 – 極上フィクション / KiLLER KiNG

[As previously reviewed] Now here’s a track that is a bit outside of the box. Instrumentally this track brings out the inner jazzy persona in you. With funky bass, brass, sax, piano and jazzy guitars blended into a funky, entertaining mix, 極上フィクション stands out to us. Not only this track has a better arrangement than “Kira Kira Smile” but it also has an different and more dynamic execution. It was a track that let some of the members free, exploring their talents and showing different colors throughout the whole piece. Engaging and melodic 極上フィクション saves this single leaving a sliver of hope that this unit can show great things. 5/5

11 – Karma / キタコレ

If you think you’ve imagined a latin touch in “Mysterious Kiss“, then this song will make it clear. Latin percussion is the main element for this song, mixing with a delicate piano melody and mesmerizing bassline. “Karma” has those salsa and merengue elements that make this song impossible not to dance along to it. Ono and Kishio managed to fit well into the song’s mood (we all know that Ono is more than experienced when it comes to this specific music genre) and delivered a solid, entertaining performance. It’s nice to listen to something from them with a different touch than usual. 5/5

12 – dreaming time / THRIVE

Heavy guitars and gritty synths are the core to this high tension song. Now this is something that has THRIVE‘s colors all over it. The instrumental is edgy but danceable at the same, result of the mix between the heavy guitar riffs and the energetic synths. But if you thought that only the instrumental would be entertaining, you’ll be surprised by the lively and powerful vocal performance from this trio. Kazuki, Toyonaga and Hanae really gave their all for this performance. One of the highlights in this song is the bridge in which Kazuki’s vocals shine alongside the delicate piano melody. “dreaming time” is an addictive, fun song to listen too, even if its tone is slightly dark in comparison with most of the tracks featured in this Best Of. 4.5/5

13 – SUMMER MERMAID / MooNs

[As previously reviewed] The quintet starts off incredibly strong with SUMMER MERMAID, a sweet mid-tempo electronic pop tune with a classy touch to it. The simple beat and synths make up for most of the verses, only increasing its tension as we approach the chorus due to the synthetic drums. The bridge is taken over by dubstep drums and synths, cleanly wrapping up into a final chorus. But if you think that this song is all about being a slow dance tune, you’re mistaken, at least, half mistaken. As one could expect from B-Project‘s units there are actually raw instruments on this one, even if a bit masked by reverbs and the sort. The guitars play a major role into dictating the flow of the song – which is a good thing that ultimately enriches the overall composition. The ending feels rather abrupt, leaving us with the sensation that this song shouldn’t have ended this shortly. Vocally we find a unit that seems to have finally found their common ground, sounding better than ever. 5/5

14 – Break it down / KiLLER KiNG

[As previously reviewed] “Break it Down” is heavily rooted in synths, bass (disclaimer: for those that are sensitive to bass frequencies – be careful when listening to this song with headphones) and synthetic drums. This simple set up is enough to make this song one of the most interesting this unit has released so far. If this mid-tempo beat with some bright sprinkles on it aren’t enough to grab your attention than rest assured that the vocal performance will do the trick. Solid dance song that smells like summer. 4.5/5

15 – ラブ☆レボリュ / MooNs

A gentle piano melody leads the way in this beautiful pop-rock song. Besides the piano, the song features fast paced drums, mostly hi-hat driven, simple guitar riffs and a solid bassline. This simple yet bright instrumental is different from what we can find on this album. The brightness goes hand-to-hand with the laidback vibe you get from this song which is a nice combo. The vocal performance left a good impression. Kakihara is in charge of opening the song for us, singing the first few lines alone with the piano, after that each member sings his parts in relay, all of them doing it passionately (mainly Toshiki Masuda). When we reach the climax, MooNs‘ performance is surprisingly warm and powerful, making the chorus stand out. This song managed to leave a warm feeling in us so we highly recommend listening to it if you’re having a bad day, it’s as if it has healing properties. 5/5

16 – 無敵*デンジャラス / B-PROJECT

The last song on this best of is 無敵*デンジャラス, song that features all B-Project units. A dramatic tone is set right from the star. The strings and gloomy piano melody lead the way although they change considerably in mood throughout the song. With that being said, the instrumental has several tempo changes within its 4 minutes. For some this might be confusing, for others it might make the song sound odd. The verses are mainly quiet and the chorus has a nice, comfortable pace, the only problem lies in the wacky pre-chorus that, not only changes the tempo considerably, but also has a messy instrumentalization to complicate things up. Other than that, the song is fairly satisfactory to listen to. The vocal performances are top quality. Once again the lines were distributed in a way that no one will stand out, leading to an even, incredibly consistent performance. A nice way to finish this special release. 4.5/5 

Final rating:

We were expecting “S Kyuu Paradise” to have a darker tone but instead, we were greeted by more bright songs, with most of them being of a lower quality than expected, even if the final rating is the same as the WHITE version. On this release we find more inconsistencies than the ones we found on the other version. Out of the new songs, only KiLLER KiNG managed to impress. They performed consistently and caught us by surprise with a well rounded performance. The same can’t be said about THRIVE, known for their rather alluring sound that, this time around, was completely watered down to the point that their trademark vibe isn’t even present. “the one&only”  was nowhere close to being a good song. The vocal performances were good but the instrumental…  were not like anything we would have loved to hear THRIVE perform. Just like what happened with the WHITE version, the highlight is “S class Paradise“, we won’t comment further about the song as we already did it extensively before.

All in all, this Best of opens and closes in the best ways we could have imagined. Despite the fact that we already knew the title track, it was nice to listen to “無敵*デンジャラス” for the first time, a song that manages to capture a different side to this franchise. Of course, there are some shaky moments here and there on this album but we can already notice some change. Groups that were initially lacking have been giving their all to improve and overcome their peers – kudos for Kitakore.

S Kyuu Paradise BLACK” is an essential album for those fans of the series as well as those of you that fancy good music with a preppy touch.

S Kyuu Paradise BLACK” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.

Advertisements