“Blooming SPRING” is the first entry into the new A3! CD series. The SPRING troupe tries to impress with variety but unfortunately only a few bright spots could be found in this release.
A brief introduction for those that aren’t familiar with this group:
The Spring Troupe counts with: Kodai Sakai, Yusuke Shirai, Koutaro Nishiyama, Shintaro Asanuma and Masashi Igarashi.
Title: Blooming SPRING Label: Pony Canyon Release date: 04/10/17 Genre: J-Pop/Rock
1. ワンダーランド・ア・ゴーゴー!! (Yusuke Shirai, Shintaro Asanuma) 2. 思い出のねじ巻き (Koutaro Nishiyama, Masashi Igarashi) 3. ダンデライオンのあくび（Koutaro Nishiyama） 4. Gamer’s High (Shintaro Asanuma) 5. シトロンの正しい日本語講座？(Masashi Igarashi) 6. ワンダーランド・ア・ゴーゴー!! (off vocal) 7. 思い出のねじ巻き (off vocal) 8. ダンデライオンのあくび (off vocal) 9. Gamer’s High (off vocal) 10. シトロンの正しい日本語講座？(off vocal)
Track by track analysis:
This single kicks off with a playful song, that brings A3!‘s theatrical vibe to life. The enphasis is put on its theatrical vibe, with playful piano melodies, bassy synths, minimalistic basslines and simple guitar work. For those fans of this kind of simple and bright instrumentalization this song will be a treat. The vocal performances were rather interesting. Shirai and Asanuma brought their best game to this song. The verses don’t require as much technique as the falsetto driven choruses. We already knew that Shirai could nail falsettos with ease but Asanuma? First time we heard him tackle those and in such a smooth fashion. He’s impressed us. Strong vocals but rather uninteresting instrumental. 4/5
The gears are changed as we enter the second track. A rustic, lyrical mood quickly envelops the listener. Pizzicato strings, acoustic and electric guitars, blowing instruments, harp, dramatic snary drums and delicate piano parts make an insteresting instrumental. The quiet sections with harp, strings and acoustic guitars transport the listener to a land of fantasy, this is a good enough performance of the lyrical/cinematic genre but don’t expect anything close to, for example, GROWTH‘s ability to transport the listener to new worlds (they are masters at it in the 2.5D idol scene). On vocal duty we find Koutaro Nishiyama and Masashi Igarashi. They are an odd pairing that performed this song in a comfortable, bland way. For a song as dramatic as this one, we were expecting the vocal performances to match the mood but we didn’t quite get that in the end. 3.5/5
If by any chance you’re feeling tired then this instrumental might relax you a bit. ダンデライオンのあくび is a slow paced and laidback song with underlining bright and jazzy tones, a song with an instrumental that will put a smile on your face. This easy-listening song lends help from the harmonica, acoustic guitars, bright piano melodies and sweet strings to create a simple piece. Koutaro Nishiyama‘s performance is a bit of a lackluster. Yes, he fits the song’s mood, but he struggles with the smallest of things during his performance – one of those being his high notes that are far from being smooth to our ears. An interesting change of pace with an underwhelming performance. 3.5/5
4. Gamer’s High
Gamer’s High is quite possibly one of the most unique songs we’ve had the opportunity to listen to in the past year. Rock mixed with retro game sounds. We can count with our fingers the few times someone ventured towards such a mix. The intro brings retro gaming sounds to the table, those are important to shape the song and its flow. But let’s not forget about the powerful bassy drums, heavy guitar riffs and noticeable bassline, those are necessary to make this song much more than a pop tune with retro gaming sounds. The instrumental will keep you on the edge of your seats. Shintaro Asanuma‘s singing skills are no joke. He holds himself incredibly well throughout the song, adding an energetic and powerful performance with stable mid-tones and comfortable high notes. Stage complete with full marks. 5/5
The last song is performed by Masashi Igarashi (Citron) and, for those that are playing A3!, this song is as exactly as what you expect from Citron, something exuberant and crazy – with a lot of Japanese typos in the mix. A marching band leads the way to this extremely upbeat song. There’s nothing much we can say about this instrumental because it’s pretty basic and repetitive. Expect bright synths, simple drums and a lot of upbeat elements on it. Everything about this song is bright, showcasing Citron’s love for Japan and the Japanese language. We can’t say much about the vocal performance either because: Igarashi isn’t singing in a comfortable tone and the character demands an over-the-top ridiculous performance. However we must rate this song and after the generic bright show we got, we can say that this song is skippable for those that are looking for something truly good. 3/5
The Spring troupe release a rather underwhelming Blooming CD. The instrumentals might have been good for the most part but the vocal performances lacked flair the majority of times. Songs like 思い出のねじ巻き, with its lyrical and cinematic sound or ダンデライオンのあくび with its laidback vibe could have be good, engaging songs if only the vocal performances weren’t a lackluster. The highlight of this release is, by far, Gamer’s High. That song sounded fresh in the middle of uneventful, bland songs. Its pace was exciting, Asanuma‘s performance was energetic and engaging. What we got with that song alone wasn’t enough to erase the bland stain all the other songs left on this release, but it was a much needed change of pace and quality. Asanuma reinforces his stance as the jack-of-all-trades in the seiyuu business. His singing skills are solid and he gives complete and interesting performance in all songs he’s a part of in this release. Want low notes? He has them. Want sweet falsettos? He has them. Want someone with control over his vocals, part of the Spring Troupe? That’s Shintaro Asanuma. He’s the big highlight on this release, the saving grace for this troupe.
Yusuke Shirai‘s performance on ワンダーランド・ア・ゴーゴー!! left us asking for more. His falsetto is something that charmed us instantly. Even if the instrumental to that song was not the best ever, his performance is still regarded by us as one of the bright spots on this release.
On the other side: Koutaro Nishiyama needs serious work on his vocals. He didn’t go that high on his scale and the notes were already sounding on the verge of cracking. His normal singing tone is bland and doesn’t carry much emotion which leaves songs like 思い出のねじ巻き – that had everything to be a top song on this release – to fail to impress. His lack of emotion makes the listener easily uninterested on the song.
Masashi Igarashi is stuck with performing as Citron, the foreigner with passion for all things Japanese, but lack of Japanese speaking skills. His vocals aren’t the best ever and his solo song was a bundle of all preppy things you could think of, making no sense at all.
In the end, Blooming SPRING showed how weak the Spring Troupe is in terms of singing skills. Lack of emotions, total detachment from their performances plus bland instrumentals led this release to the place it is: mediocrity.
“Blooming SPRING” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.