Marginal #4 “KISS Kara Tsukuru Big Bang” (Review)


marginal

This was a packed year for the Marginal #4 franchise but unlike in other years, this was a year filled with higher quality songs and performances. It was a year of growth for all three units. KISSから創造(つく)るBig Bang encompasses really well that growth.

Title: KISSから創造(つく)るBig Bang
Label: Rejet/Pythagoras Production
Release date: 27/09/2017
Genre: J-Pop/Jazz

Tracklist:

01.WeMe!!!!
02.忍-Just A 絶頂(HEAVEN)-
03.Melty・Love・Cooking(・はハートマーク)
04.革命(Revolution)XX
05.Mr.StarrySky
06.REAL?
07.コ・コ・ロ・ヒ・ト・ツ
08.HOT★SCRAMBLE
09.カラフル
10.魂のノンストップラヴァー
11.絆-KIZUNA-
12.KISSから創造(つく)るBig Bang
13.Orbit [new song by Marginal #4]
14.“U” [new song by Lagrange Point]
15.ハングリー? [new song by Unicorn Jr.]

Track by track analysis:

01.WeMe!!!!

[As previously reviewed] Already known by the fans of the anime, WeMe!!! is a jazzy mid-tempo pop song that strays a bit far from what the group has been doing for the last couple of years. Giving a “Masquerade” vibe right from the start, this song excels on making the listener interested. The funky bass and drums set the pace of the song, leading the way for the groovy guitar and upbeat piano melodies to pretty up the instrumental piece. The instrumental speeds up, presenting us an exciting chorus in which brass joins the already danceable song. Vocally, this song has left so much behind. While it’s true that everyone is singing comfortably and without any issues, it’s also true that this vocal performance is far from what the unit showcased before. In what was a solid and incredibly entertaining instrumental, it’s a bit frustrating that people get to listen to a an overly conscious and careful Marginal #4 instead of being the risk-taking group that has finally left a big slump behind. 4/5

02.忍-Just A 絶頂(HEAVEN)-

[As previously reviewedMIKOTO brought back raging guitars, exciting drumming, mixing it all with some minimal synths and the shamisen for an explosive 忍-Just A 絶頂HEAVEN-. Revisiting their debut days and blending it with Lagrange Point‘s top rock sound, this song certainly doesn’t lack in the hype department, exciting the listener as we thread through the verses into the powerful chorus. It has been a while since we last were presented with such a well crafted song for Marginal #4, a song that really enhances everyone’s strong points, making each of the members shine properly. Listening the vocal performances in detail, we’re pleasantly surprised by how leveled this unit now sounds in comparison with previous releases and even more with their debut single “100万回の愛革命“. All members have been polishing their vocals in the most various projects outside of this unit, and the result is more than satisfying. 忍-Just A 絶頂HEAVEN- is a daring tune overflowing with energy and vocal performances that are deemed to impress. 5/5

03.Melty・Love・Cooking

[As previously reviewedMelty♥Love♥Cooking is a playful song that surprisingly doesn’t sound that cheesy. With bright piano parts, mid-tempo drums as well as melodic guitar work, this song fares pretty well despite not being the best song to showcase either of their talented vocals. “Kimi to Faraway” and “真夏のジャスティス” are by far better examples of how great KENN and Suzuki work as a duo. The vocal parts in the bridge are so gentle and breathy that may cause some issues to the listeners – especially if you’re a fan of either (or both) of them. The rest of the vocal performance was actually pretty solid, not presenting any issues. It’s a shame that the instrumentals once again make the group or duo (in this case) not sound at their best. This duo is known for their powerful performances but this one was far from being it. 4/5

04.革命(Revolution)XX

[As previously reviewed] It’s Lagrange Point’s return to the music business after a rather long time away from the spotlight. 革命(Revolution)XX brings all the big guns to the table with a powerful song that really captured the essence of their debut sound – that exciting mix of hardrock and pop that impressed everyone on a first listen. Heavy guitar riffs lead the way being joined by the synths, bass and drums for what is yet another exciting tune from this romantic rock duo. The chorus is slightly different from what we’re used to from the most recent releases – it’s not as pop driven as some of their previous releases. It’s a formula that worked incredibly well for this unit when they debuted back in 2014 and still does wonders. It sounded like a fresh approach but it’s really them revisiting their original sound. With an instrumental as good as this one it’s no wonder that the vocal performance is amazing. Both vocal performances were thrilling, embracing exactly the emotions needed for this song. With both vocals on par and an instrumental piece that really put us on the edge of our seats, we can only say that this is a killer release, one of the best the unit has put out. 5/5

05.Mr.StarrySky

[As previously reviewed] We find Naozumi Takahashi tackling his first solo song in the Marginal #4 universe. Minimal synths lay the first layer of music in this acoustic driven instrumental. With marching drums and an acoustic guitar leading the way in the verses, Mr. StarrySky is nothing we could have expected. Yes, it’s a lackluster. There’s no way around it. This song seems to capture exactly the Rui’s character – character that has been criticized by some netizens as being boring. While we won’t say anything regarding that one thing is for certain: this song is downright boring. A lot is lacking on this song both in the instrumental and vocal execution. This one saves itself from being the worst Marginal #4 song ever because there are no annoying synths in the background. 3/5

06.REAL?

[As previously reviewedUnicorn Jr. tackle their first song into the anime series. As expected by the group’s fans prior to the anime adaptation, this unit mixes once again rock with electronica in a powerful dance mix that no other group in this franchise can rival. Dance pop is for this group as rock is for Lagrange Point, the perfect match. “Real?” is a mid-tempo loungy dance song with melodic verses and an addictive chorus. AoiSomeya and Sawashirogave their all for this addictive tune full of vocal highlights to impress its listeners. If there is a top song among these new Marginal #4 universe bundle of songs is this one. Lagrange Point‘s was also a top song but this one, it’s on its own league. 5/5

07.コ・コ・ロ・ヒ・ト・ツ

[As previously reviewedKENN (L) gets a solo track after the slight trainwreck that was his duet song with Yuto Suzuki (R). This time around things were fleshed out in a different way, putting aside the cute antics and embracing KENN‘s trademark natural sexy and smooth vocals. Heavy guitar riffs mix with an assortment of indian, japanese and chinese percussion and/or strings – you read it well. Everything is in this song to give it an exotic touch, which was more than well crafted as we had the opportunity to listen. This song has a sort of dangerous vibe to it, the instrumental by itself is challenging mixing sitar with guitars. KENN‘s seductive vocals lead the way in this intoxicating song where everything is allowed. Think about “Masquerade” getting a facelift and turning into a sexy song. Yeah, that’s right. “Kokoro Hitotsu” is so far the best solo song in this series. 5/5

08.HOT★SCRAMBLE

[As previously reviewedMasuda and Takahashi take on this song as a duo. HOTSCRAMBLE is a rather “calm” song in comparison with Marginal #4’s traditional fast paced song. Putting an emphasis on the guitar work that has some laidback, jazzy and latin touches on it, we have a song that fares better than the all-out synth galore we’re usually presented with. So, the instrumental is a nice surprise for us, showing a pop-rock side to this unit that fits well with the group. The vocal performance is good – Takahashi pitches in his smooth, melodic mid-tones whereas, at the same time, Masuda is showing why he’s one of the most improved seiyuu in the music business. We won’t get into details regarding this point, just listen to the song – if you haven’t heard it on the anime – and pay attention to Masuda‘s performance. This song isn’t as cringeworthy as some of the previous songs were – namely the one sang by KENN and Yuto Suzuki – but those spoken parts that almost everyone hates are back. There’s quite a few awkward lines in there near the bridge so approach them with a grain of salt if you don’t fancy them but are enjoying the song. 4.5/5

09.カラフル

[As previously reviewed] “Colorful” is what it looks like: a bright song with an upbeat melody provided by the mix of synths, guitars, drums, bass and brass. From this description, you’re already thinking all kinds of things, most probably some of them aren’t good, right? Well, “Colorful” had everything to be an all-out cheesy song, but thankfully its brightness only applies to part of the instrumental as Suzuki‘s tone this time around is close to his mid-to-high sweet tone that most of his fans love. If this song had been sang in a higher key or with a “cute” touch it would have certainly be yet another bad Marginal #4 song. Since that didn’t happen we can only say that it is nice to have him, the group’s leader, taking the spotlight all to himself. The song was a bit restricting to his vocals as he seldom went for high notes or add any fancy techniques in the mix. “Colorful” is has a mediocre instrumental bundled with a clearly better quality vocal performance. 4/5

10.魂のノンストップラヴァー

[As previously reviewedMarginal #4 return in full force for this song. Almost no one was hoping for Marginal #4to return with a powerful pop-rock sound after their last releases. Turns out this time around, and to complete the anime series (this is the last song as a quartet featured in the anime), the group opted for a “edgier” sound and it paid off. The song’s raging guitar riffs that guide the lister right from the start will certainly grab your attention, the drums are powerful, heavily rooted on the bass and the synths – although still an active presence in the song – don’t hinder it too much. But does this instrumental work well with the vocal performances this time around? We can firmly say that it works better than ever. 絆-KIZUNA-  is Marginal #4‘s wink at the past, but with an eye into the future. A perfect symbiosis. 5/5

11.絆-KIZUNA-

[As previously reviewedToshiki Masuda takes the wheel for this solo song. Dirty guitar riffs and synths lead the way on this high throttle pop-rock song with a catchy chorus. Fast paced, this song benefits from the stunning bass and guitar work, elements that brought this song’s instrumental to greater heights. The synths might be a bit distracting or even overwhelming at times – especially when they are battling with guitars for attention in the last spurt of the song. Other than that, the instrumental is energetic and addictive. With this solo performance Masuda managed to prove all doubters wrong. He’s fierce, matching the tone of the song perfectly. His polished mid-tones were essencial to push this song even further. A spectacular performance that was downplayed by the synths. 4.5/5

12.KISSから創造(つく)るBig Bang

[As previously reviewed] A dirty synth lead makes way for this exciting but short song. Guitar riffs quickly draw us into the song as the funky bass and snary drums make a statement. For those that pay extra attention to every single detail in a song this one is a treat for you. This song is a clear mix between the styles of each group. Powerful drums and guitars from Lagrange Point and Marginal #4 and the synths and danceable touch to the chorus from Unicorn Jr.. The mix might sound chaotic on paper but as you listen to the song it actually sounds incredibly well. On the vocal department this song is all kinds of awesome, considering that we have a total of 9 people featured and things could get easily overcrowded.

The verses follow the structure – Marginal #4 -> Lagrange Point -> Unicorn Jr. , it’s simple and effective, also easy for people to tell apart some members that have rather similar voice tones. As everyone already knows, all these three groups have gifted singers in their lineups. Given the diversity in tones, there are certain types of singers paired up in the chorus. So it’s just as normal to find SawashiroToyonaga and Masuda paired up for one part of the chorus as it is to find SuzukiAoi and KENN together. Genki and Someya as the unique tones are often blended with any of the combinations (there are a lot) within this song. Because of that, the chorus is actually split into three different parts that pack different types of delivery and power. Surprisingly ToyonagaKENNSuzukiTakahashi and Genki were the ones that stood out the most in this collaboration. AoiSomeyaSawashiro and Masuda blended perfectly in this song which is usually a good thing. But taking into account that this is sang by 9 people it didn’t favor them at all. If not for their solo parts, they would go unnoticed on this song. As a whole KISSから創造るBig Bang is an addictive song that passes by insanely fast. The vocal performance is stellar and the instrumental certainly doesn’t fall short. 5/5

13.Orbit [new song by Marginal #4]

An ethereal piano melody sets a dramatic, urgent tone to this song. Orbit is owner of one of the best instrumentals among Marginal #4‘s repertoire and the best the group has released this year. As usual we’ve got synths and guitars, two elements that have been a constant for their songs. They way they were handled this time around was like a flashback to their debut days. Glad that MIKOTO is slowly bringing back Marginal #4 to their original mix of raging guitars and powerful drums with underlining synths. That formula was responsible for some of their best songs up until now (i.e 100万回の愛革命(REVOLUTION)!). Expect ranging guitars, fast paced drums, thunderous basslines and synths – that take the spotlight quite often. Also, expect this instrumental to impress you. What was done, for example, with the chorus was gold. It really is flawless. The progression, the vocals, the instrumentalization, everything was on point, raising the song’s tension. On the vocal department, we can only express how satisfying it is to listen to this group being all in the same page for once. There’s no one standing out and there’s no one underperforming. The high quality of the vocal performances stands out on its own. Masuda‘s versatile vocals can tackle the roughest parts of the song but let’s not forget that his now polished mid-tones can sound as smooth as KENN and Takahashi‘s sound. KENN and Takahashi are the smooth operators, adding those sweet mid-tones throughout the song. Suzuki brings to the table an improved vibrato and polished vocals. Everyone was on top of their game for this performance. Do you still remember those tacky lines in between verses or during the outro? This song doesn’t have them which is, by itself, a major plus for those of you that were put off by those sections of the song. An all rounded performance with a complete, rich and exciting instrumental and top vocal performances. 5/5 

14.“U” [new song by Lagrange Point]

Lagrange Point add another ballad to their repertoire. Melancholy and longing loom over this song with the delicate piano melodies, gentle strings, minimal drums and guitar riffs. The song’s slow pace helps those emotions sink in perfectly. The verses are mostly quiet – with a piano accompanying – and the chorus is an explosion of emotion with heavy guitar riffs and splashy drums joining in. The outro was rather unexpected. The addition of gated guitar riffs was refreshing as well as it was the use of synths on that specific section of the song. We advise you to listen to this song right now. Stop reading our review and listen to it to get a better picture of what we’re saying. This song is meant to be experienced. This simple instrumental carries heavy emotions and the vocal performances as just as emotional and powerful. Toyonaga and Okawa‘s harmonies are some of the best we’ve ever had an opportunity to listen from them. Individually, both presented their best selves to this song. Toyonaga brought his falsettos, flourishes and ad-libs, on the other side, Okawa brought polished vocals that tackled comfortably the lower as well as higher sections of the song. His performance was on par with Toyonaga‘s, a delight to listen to. Also, no tacky lines on this song. “U” is, hands down, one of the best songs on Lagrange Point‘s repertoire. 5/5

15.ハングリー? [new song by Unicorn Jr.]

Melodic guitar riffs and a funky bassline set a laidback mood for “Hungry?“. This simple jazzy pop-rock tune is certainly a first for Unicorn Jr.. After experimenting with a variety of music genres, the unit tackles this interesting and playful blend. It’s good for a change to have less synths and more acoustic/live instruments in the mix. This change in sound was rather drastic when you look back at their repertoire filled with either fast paced dance songs or imposing pop-rock songs. You’ll find yourself jamming to this instrumental in no time. This kind of instrumental fits incredibly well with Aoi‘s smooth vibrato imbued vocals and Sawashiro‘s melodic mid-tones. They are on their element for this track. Someya has improved a bit his singing, sounding more comfortable – in the past there were instances in which he sounded like he was struggling to hit some notes -, however there is still a lot of improvement needed on his vocals, at least with the potential he’s showing there’s more he can do to sound even better. Expect some typical Rejet stuff on this track though. All in all, “Hungry?” was an unexpected song that turned out to be a pleasant surprise. 5/5

Final rating:

Marginal #4 wrap up a year filled with music. There were a lot of highs this year. Unicorn Jr. and Lagrange Point went all out with exciting and powerful songs and Marginal #4 is officially back on track.

Although the majority of solo tracks ended up being a little bit under our expectations it was interesting to find the different colors among Marginal #4. Solo song wise the highlight most definitely belongs to KENN‘s “コ・コ・ロ・ヒ・ト・ツ“. The rich instrumental and the fantastic vocal performance made this song stand out with ease. Toshiki Masuda‘s “絆-KIZUNA-” was perfect to prove that he has been working a whole lot on his vocals. An interesting fact about his vocals: that song was recorded early in 2017. A couple of months later, his singing was sounding even more polished than that. We can’t wait to listen to a new Marginal #4 song to ascertain just how much his growth is going to affect the whole group’s balance. We’ve had some eras since Marginal #4 made their debut in 2013. The early days were ruled by the smooth operator duo KENN x Naozumi Takahashi, during the “Chu Chu Luv Scandal” era Yuto Suzuki was a beast, leading the group and showcasing his improved vocals. Now, it’s safe to say that it’s Toshiki Masuda‘s time to take the spotlight in Marginal #4.

Yuto Suzuki and Naozumi Takahashi found the short end of the stick with their solo songs. Takahashi‘s was too bland and Suzuki‘s was uneventful. Both songs failed to showcase their talented vocals. Taking into account the talent they usually bring to the table, it was a pity that their songs ended up being the weakest.

A couple of words about Lagrange Point and Unicorn Jr. before wraping up this review. Lagrange Point might have slipped slightly during the “Prisoner” era but they have than strengthened their stance once again as the best Pythagoras Production unit. It has been a while since they’ve released such a beautiful and heartwrenching ballad. “U” fills perfectly the void some might have due to the lack of quality ballads from this unit in the past years.

Unicorn Jr. changed things around just enough to completely make them sound unrecognizable. We all know that this unit excels in their synth imbued pop sound. They tend to, from time to time, present us a song with more robust instrumentalization, those high tension pop-rock tunes of theirs. This time around we got something unexpected. Acoustic pop-rock with some jazzy bits was certainly something we weren’t exactly expecting from them. But that formula worked out incredibly well. We got to listen with more clarity to their vocals and were presented with melodic performances, something that seldom happens on majority of their songs.

All in all, this Best Of looks back on what was released during 2017 part of the Marginal #4 franchise. We got to listen to exciting tunes, unexpected melodies, powerful ballads, addictive dance tunes and a variety of solo songs. This was a packed year for this franchise but unlike in other years, this was a year filled with higher quality songs and performances. It was a year of growth for all three units. This release encompasses really well that growth. A must listen for any fan of the franchise.

KISSから創造(つく)るBig Bang” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.

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