QUELL “Small World” (Review)

After a year of branching out, trying new music genres and approaches to their sound, QUELL return with the simple acoustic pop tune “小さな世界” (Small World).

Title: 小さな世界
Label: Tsukino Production/Movic
Release date: 26/01/2018
Genre: J-Pop

Tracklist:

1 - 小さな世界 (Small World)

Track analysis:

1 – 小さな世界 (Small World)

QUELL surprise again, this time embracing a core warm acoustic sound. After visiting and embracing a wide variety of music genres and techniques in the past year, that ranged from minimalistic to all out progressive dance tunes, the talented quartet bringing to the table a laidback and bright acoustic sound, rooted in acoustic guitars, a simple piano melody and strings. This is a comfortable setting for them as well as yet another different approach and genre to check on their “to try at least once” list. The instrumental is rather simple and doesn’t go out of its way to create an impressive atmosphere for us, listeners. However, that simplicity comes with a downside: little happens and the instrumental gets easily repetitive – all thanks to the looping piano melody playing in the background.

In comparison, QUELL’s crystal clear vocals shine.

Ad-libs and high notes are Sho Nogami and Shugo Nakamura‘s territory. The two put to test their skillful vocals and tackle high notes, deliver stunning crescendos, even coating them with vibrato (Nogami‘s specialty) and are overall an incredibly reliable duo that can do almost anything for QUELL.

What has turned into a trademark is that special break between verses in which Shunsuke Takeuchi usually tackles English lyrics, making good use of his solid pronunciation. This might seem redundant for some people that are only listening to QUELL for the first time, but for those that have gotten the opportunity to check the unit’s previous songs, that is something that has turned into a trademark, something we already anticipate with each release. It is a nice touch, especially when it ends up being fairly well executed. Aside from this, Takeuchi shows that he’s a role singer, showcasing his versatility throughout the song. His range enables him to tackle high notes if required but on “Small World” it’s his bass notes that really caught our attention, adding a depth to the overall vocal track that without him wouldn’t exist. He’s grown a bit in the past year, being more patient and less flashy with his singing, and he’s also showing slightly bit more control over his low registry.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about Koutaro Nishiyama, that doesn’t show much improvement on the vocal end. He keeps sounding like he’s straining his voice or forcing his tone in order not to have his voice cracking. Taking into account the unit he’s a part of (filled with versatile singers with pretty unique voice colors), those flaws end up being easily noticeable and distracting, especially during his solo parts in which the quality usually tends to drop.

Don’t get us wrong though. If we listen to his performances when QUELL debuted and right now, we can ascertain that, in fact, he’s improved, but certainly not as much nor enough to put him on par with his fellow group mates. He’s improving at a really slow rate which makes it always seem like he’s not putting in the effort – truth is, he’s actually putting effort, only it’s unnoticeable.

All in all, QUELL released yet another different sounding single, showcasing once more just how versatile they are. “Small World” might fail to fully impress us but it’s still a solid song, one that is meant to enjoy during those laidback, happy moments of yours.

Final rating:

This song is included in the second DVD of TSUKIPRO THE ANIMATION. The DVD is available for purchase on CDJAPAN.

 

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