The SUMMER troupe is the second one to tackle the “Blooming” CD series. From fast paced bright songs to the acoustic pop-rock songs that spread a “feel good” vibe to lowkey danceable songs and dramatic pop-rock tunes, “Blooming SUMMER” sure does try to cater to almost anyone.
A brief introduction for those that aren’t familiar with this group:
The Summer Troupe counts with: Takuya Eguchi, Shunichi Toki, Yoshitaka Yamaya, Daisuke Hirose and Ren Ozawa.
Title: Blooming SUMMER Label: Pony Canyon Release date: 04/10/17 Genre: J-Pop
1. にゃんばれ！にゃにゃにゃにゃ☆にゃん生！ (Shunichi Toki, Ren Ozawa) 2. 進め！パイレーツ (Daisuke Hirose, Yoshitaka Yamaya) 3. いつか王子様に… (Yoshitaka Yamaya) 4. いちにっさんかく (Daisuke Hirose) 5. Summer Time Love (Ren Ozawa) 6. にゃんばれ！にゃにゃにゃにゃ☆にゃん生！ (off vocal) 7. 進め！パイレーツ (off vocal) 8. いつか王子様に… (off vocal) 9. いちにっさんかく (off vocal) 10. Summer Time Love (off vocal)
Track by track analysis:
Shunichi Toki and Ren Ozawa team up for what is a rather unique song. にゃんばれ！にゃにゃにゃにゃ☆にゃん生！brings to the table an extremely upbeat sound. If you’re in need of an energy shot don’t look any further. The song’s fast pace, bright synths and energetic guitar riffs are certain to keep your energy levels up. Everything happens way too fast on this song. It’s not like the song is short (it’s 4 minutes long), it’s just that its pace is so rushed that you feel like time has passed by too fast. Anyways, even with all that speed and energy, this song is a mess. Of course, there might be people that enjoy this kind of instrumentalization, pace or even the cute imbued vocal performances, however this song sounds too messy for our taste. Whenever we’re not listening to the chorus, we can comfortably say that the vocal performances are satisfactory, however the chorus is a pain to deal with. Not because Toki or Ozawa underperformed, they were doing as they were told – just listen to Toki, that’s not even his comfortable singing tone but it’s the character he’s voicing so he’s doing it well -, but because everything about the vocal directions and lyrics ruined it for us. The lyrics are nonsensical at best and only if you fancy these kind of cute songs (with cat references everywhere) will you say that this chorus is any good. This song would be better off without the chorus or at least those overly repetitive lyrics. Not the best way to open this mini-album but let’s not disregard that this song is at least, half decent. 3/5
Almost as if we were listening to 80’s or 90’s game music, this instrumental mixes dramatic and picturesque elements with rock music, leaving us with a feeling of being among pirates. This makes sense for those that have played the game. The instrumental is slow paced, with the bassy drums and violin leading the way. Joining this instrumental are acoustic guitars, bass and some piano parts. This instrumental and the whole vibe about it are completely different, unexpected and refreshing. Daisuke Hirose and Yoshitaka Yamaya are on vocal duty for this track. Their performance was surprisingly good. Hirose proved to be a great vocal (first time listening to him), his mid-tones are stable and melodic, blending perfectly with Yamaya‘s high notes. Both make an interesting duo that delivered one of the most engaging performances on this mini-album. 4.5/5
And we’re graced with the first solo song in this release. いつか王子様に… is a semi-acoustic pop-rock tune with a sweet piano melody at its core. This instrumental will definitely give you “feel good” vibes as soon as it starts playing. Due to the laidback guitar work, that lends a lot of its playing style to jazz and blues, this instrumental rises above most bright pop-rock tunes. It doesn’t sound generic nor it bland, this is a well crafted instrumental that relies more on acoustic and groovy melodies to pass the exact same bright, happy vibe you’d get with a “by the book” generic pop song, with the up side being that this approach led to a higher quality instrumental. We can’t help but to enjoy the melodic guitar solos or funky bassline, even the jazz break, with a those delicate piano melodies, slow paced drums and contrabass backing Yamaya‘s sweet performance are certain to impress you. 4.5/5
The next one up is Daisuke Hirose with いちにっさんかく, quite possibly the most uneventful song on this release. Don’t get us wrong, this is by no means a bad song, it’s just uninspired and bland. For a bass driven electronic pop song we were expecting some kind of exciting twist or at least a better progression. Synths, bass samples, pizzicato strings to add a delicate touch to this instrumental, all fail to blend in a way that will excite the listener or at least spark their interest. The instrumental sounds and feels bland and the vocal performance follows the exact same pattern. While the previous song was laidback but engaging, this one was the complete opposite, not delivering anything worthy of reporting to the table. 3/5
5. Summer Time Love
Ren Ozawa wraps up this release with the entertaining pop-rock tune, Summer Time Love. Now, here’s a song that sounds and feels like a summer tune. The instrumentalization mostly comprised of playful guitar riffs, synthetic drums and simple synths will bring those summer vibes to you – even if it might be freezing cold for some of you. A side note: the chorus will have you sing along, whether to the chants or to Ozawa‘s performance we leave that option to you. This is a by the book youthful/teen summer tune, energetic, fun and overall entertaining song with a simple but solid performance. 4/5
Once again we’re presented with variety. There’s songs for almost all tastes here. From fast paced bright songs to the acoustic pop-rock songs that spread a “feel good” vibe to lowkey danceable dance songs and dramatic pop-rock tunes, “Blooming SUMMER” sure does try to cater to almost anyone.
This release is far from perfect with some forgettable parts – mainly the chorus for にゃんばれ！にゃにゃにゃにゃ☆にゃん生！and the uneventful いちにっさんかく– but among those there are throughly interesting instrumentals and performances that are certain to impress you. The Toki x Ozawa combo was a mess from start to finish, the only saving grace for them were the verses and some of the instrumentalization. You can sound cute without sounding ridiculous, still we get the idea that somewhere down the line the composers forgot all about this.
The complete opposite can be said about the Yamaya x Hirose duo. Their dramatic pop-rock tune took us to a land of pirates and conquers, it was such a nice change of pace. Their youthful sound and solid vocals stood out.
Yamaya‘s いつか王子様に… was such a nice song to listen to. We often criticize bright pop tunes for the overuse of synths and attempts to jumble up as many instruments and samples to create a song. いつか王子様に… is nothing like that. The composers played with the song’s underlining brightness – that you can tell by either the lyrics or the overall mood of the song – and made it sound more melodic than what you’d normally find on a bright pop rock song. It was a throughly enjoyable instrumental to listen to.
いちにっさんかく failed to grab our attention. It was uneventful and bland for the most part, with the vocal performance lacking something that would trully engage the listener – for good or for bad. If the song had been handled in a slightly different way it could have, for example, kept the instrumentalization intact and added some spicy to the vocal performance, taking this song to another level. Unfortunately, it wasn’t we got in the end.
Out of the solo songs only Ozawa‘s Summer Time Love felt like a summer song. If there’s a definition of a pop-rock summer tune, that song certainly fits it. It was such an exciting and enjoyable song to listen to, completing this mini-album in good fashion.
All in all, “Blooming SUMMER” stutters on some parts but for the most part it is an interesting release, filled with a variety of songs and approaches that will bring a summery vibe to you.
“Blooming SUMMER” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.