Nobuhiko Okamoto “Melty Halloween” (Review)

Nobuhiko Okamoto is back with a Halloween centric single. Melty Halloween” is an eclectic release that sits comfortably among Okamoto‘s previous releases.

Regular edition

Title: Melty Halloween
Label: Kiramune
Release date: 25/10/17
Genre: J-Pop

Tracklist:

1. Melty Halloween 
2. Love Labyrinth 
3. 最最強

Track by track analysis:

1. Melty Halloween

If you want to get in the mood for Halloween – even if we’re now past the season – Melty Halloween might do the trick for you. The playful instrumentalization features a mix of brass, harp, simple drums, a prominent bassline and entertaining piano melodies. This is the simple, by the book formula for a Halloween pop song. To fit with the song’s vibe, Okamoto opted for a “cute” singing tone. It’s understandable that he sang the song in  such a tone, but I can’t help but wonder if “Melty Halloween” would sound better if he just performed it in a comfortable tone – “cute” is certainly on his repertoire of skills but it is far from being his best sounding tone. For those of you that are fans of Okamoto‘s preppy songs and have a soft spot for Halloween themed songs, this will be a treat. For those, like us, waiting to hear something more serious or that taps into Okamoto‘s singing skills it’s definitely a trick. 3.5/5

2. Love Labyrinth

Guitar riffs and glitchy synths open the way for “Love Labyrinth“, Okamoto‘s electronic pop-rock song with some danceable touches. The verses as slow paced, resorting mainly to sampled bass drums, heavy guitar riffs and simple synths. The instrumental quickly picks up its pace and, by the time we enter the chorus, we notice that this song increased its tempo. These changes, especially in an electronic/dance driven song are what makes it sound interesting and alive. Also, the dance break brings to the table dubstep-ish drums and glitchy synths breaking the tempo once again. So, on a first analysis, we’ve got several tempo changes. “Love Labyrinth” keeps things exciting and engaging for the listener with the instrumental but does Okamoto deliver a matching performance? You don’t need that much time into the song to understand that his comfortable registry, rooted in a versatile mid-tone, is an excellent fit for this song. He performs this song with a lot of energy, displaying good control over his vocals, especially holding long notes with precision. A necessary change of pace that introduced us a solid dancefloor oriented song. 4.5/5

3. 最最強

If Halloween themed songs and electronic pop ones aren’t really your cup of tea, Nobuhiko has another song up his sleeve, a youthful, fast paced pop-rock track, no less. Guitars, bass, drums, brass, everything is played in a way that amps up the listener. Adding a melodic touch to this rather raw instrumental is a playful jazzy piano melody. On the other hand, the bridge was made to hype up the listener and will be perfect for a live setting. Now, onto the vocal performance. First things first, Okamoto sings insanely fast for this song. Second, his vocals are really stable. His energy balanced well with the fast paced instrumental, ultimately leading to an entertaining song. 4/5

Final rating:

Melty Halloween” is yet another eclectic release in Okamoto‘s repertoire. Ranging from cute, Halloween themed songs to dance tracks with fiercer instrumentalization and pop-rock tracks that wink at us with Jazz melodies, this release had a little bit of everything.

Now, in terms of execution not everything panned out. “Melty Halloween” (the title track) channels well the Halloween vibe, at the least the preppier side to it. What lacks is an overall good vocal performance. “Love Labyrinth” came as a surprise. Although we were expecting a dance song to find its way into this release, we weren’t expecting that song to be as engaging and entertaining as it turned out to be. 最最強 upped the tempo for this release but what we got in the end could have used a little bit of polish on it. The instrumental sure was fun to listen to and the vocal performance was energetic but there was something missing.

This single might be far from being his best but it’s also far from being his worst. First of all, it’s commendable the way Okamoto is trying music genres and taking the time to write his own lyrics (he penned all lyrics on this single) to fit those music genres. However, consistency would do wonders for his solo career. Currently, he’s too inconsistent, always releasing one genuinely good song among an assortment or mediocre or weak songs. This might be due to the fact that although he’s primarily a pop artist, he’s never really embraced a specific sound for himself besides the overly bright and preppy image/sound Kiramune has given him. It seems like Okamoto is slowly finding his self as a solo artist through his writing. Only time will tell what music genre(s) will fit with his lyrics.

On the vocal department we can only say that it would be interesting to find him singing in a more comfortable and confident way in upcoming releases. There were some occasions on this release that his vocals were far from natural or even trying to impress anyone. But there are some bright spots on his singing. He’s already showing control on his vocals, now we only need him to perform something serious for a change in a show-it-all context.

Melty Halloween” is a comfortable release that doesn’t add anything new to Okamoto‘s repertoire. Even if nothing is new on it, it has its good moments, those that will excite the listener and/or put a smile on their face.

This review was possible thanks MALLARD084’s sponsored copy.

Melty Halloween” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.

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