apple-polisher “BACK 2 SQUARE 1” (Review)

apple-polisher return with “BACK 2 SQUARE 1“, a single that brought to the table not only the band’s trademark danceable sound but also ethereal and alluring performances that will grab your attention. This is the band’s best release to date.

apple-polisher consists of Shouta Aoi (vocal), Takahiro Sakurai, Yoshiki Nakajima and Yuichiro Umehara.

Regular edition

Title: BACK 2 SQUARE 1
Label: Nippon Columbia/Asgard
Release Date: 29/11/2017
Genre: Synth-rock/Dance

Tracklist:

1 BACK 2 SQUARE 1
2 HOLDING OUT
3 BACK 2 SQUARE 1(Instrumental)
4 HOLDING OUT(Instrumental)

Track by track analysis:

1 – BACK 2 SQUARE 1

Electric guitar riffs and dark, bassy synths lead the way for “BACK 2 SQUARE 1”. apple-polisher’s trademark danceable, synth-rock sound takes a couple of turns on this song, some good and some poorly executed. The pre-chorus is one of the examples in which the execution was good. While the verses are a mix of minimal instrumentalization and simple guitar riffs alongside synthetic drums, the pre-chorus brings to the table minimal synths and soothing pads achieving an ethereal sound. As good as this song might be, the chorus is an issue. There’s too much bass on that part, making it a difficult listen for those more sensitive to bass sounds or simply those that don’t fancy over-the-top instrumentals. We have the main bassline, the bassy synths, the bassy + hi-hat drums and even washy synths in the mix during that part. The mixing is sloppy to the point that all it appears that all parts are with the exact same volume level, making it hard to digest. Besides that sloppy – even if intentional – part, this instrumental is just as you’d expect from apple-polisher, danceable and minimalistic. Once again, as it is tradition with apple-polisher’s songs, it ends abruptly, leaving the listener with the feel that something is missing on it. Shouta Aoi’s vocals shine on this song, especially on the pre-chorus, in which he makes good use of his falsetto and high notes to enhance the ethereal vibe that was in place. “BACK 2 SQUARE 1” is, indeed, an interesting song in which the only flaw is the sloppy mixing and arrangement. 4.5/5

2 – HOLDING OUT

Prepare yourself for what awaits you. HOLDING OUT not only is a sexy, slow paced synth-pop/minimalistic dance track that will instantly grab your attention, but it is also apple-polisher‘s best song to date. The instrumental resorts to a well known and effective formula to make it all sound sexy and alluring without much fuss: embrace a slow pace. After listening to this song you’ll notice that the pace is everything, it’s what moves this song forward but also what piques your attention right from the start. Pacing is something that apple-polisher tend to execute flawlessly. The instrumental is minimalistic to the core despite the amount of samples and synth parts it has. Ranging from minimal to glitchy, soothing and washy synths, the listener will have a field trip with this song, especially if loungy, relaxing songs are their favorite. Add to it a dirty bassline, synthetic hi-hat drums and minimalistic guitar riffs and you’ve got a recipe to almost completely seduce the listener – i.e that outro is heavenly good. What is missing to complete that task? Well, Shouta Aoi‘s vocals seem to complete that job with flying colors. His falsetto and high notes are so ethereal but at the same time carry a strange alluring vibe that you really can’t ignore it. Just listen to his falsetto in the pre-chorus, it will melt you. Or the last 1:50 minutes of the song, its progression and instrumental plus Aoi‘s performance will impress you. Hands down, apple-polisher‘s best song. 5/5

Final rating:

BACK 2 SQUARE 1” powers its way to the rank of best apple-polisher single. Although there are some flaws with the title track, this release still easily deserves that title.

BACK 2 SQUARE 1” brought to the table a danceable, loungy sound that few groups have. What’s best is that their sound is so distinguishable and fresh that we’re always anticipating anything coming from them. While it’s safe to say that apple-polisher‘s synth-rock band outfit might seem predictable, in reality the songs we get are not predictable at all. The progressions vary, the way the instruments are handled is different, there are no 2 songs that sound the same on their repertoire, all this while being consistent about their sound. That is not an easy task: being consistent and avoiding repeating the same song structure twice. However apple-polisher excel on it. The outros for both songs, for example, are incredibly different and feel differently but their still sound exactly like apple-polisher‘s textbook sound.

The title track might have had its mixing flaws but if we put it aside that is easily one of the best songs on the band’s repertoire. On the other side “HOLDING OUT” is strangely cinematic and alluring. This song transports you to a place, a setting, a sound and landscape that you’re not expecting at all. It’s a wonderful and freeing feeling. Aside from this, the song has an addictive alluring vibe that Shouta Aoi makes his, delivering an all out sexy and breathy performance.

As a whole, this release is simple, slow paced, alluring and ear catching, the best we’ve heard from apple-polisher since their debut. We’re afraid this release might go under the radar because of DYNAMIC CHORD‘s poor anime adaptation. On our end we can only say that this is a pearl that needs to be treasured and “HOLDING OUT” is a good contender for 2.5D song of the year.

BACK 2 SQUARE 1” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.

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