Consistency, danceable tunes and rich vocals were key to bring to life “DIAMOND BEAT“, Kakihara‘s best single to date.
Title: DIAMOND BEAT Label: Kiramune Release date: 14/02/2018 Genre: Dance/Pop/Rock
1. DIAMOND BEAT 2. ごめんね、ありがとう。 3. MOVING
Track by track analysis:
1. DIAMOND BEAT
“DIAMOND BEAT” is an extremelly well crafted song so, if you only listened/watched the mv preview, don’t be fooled by how “weird” it sounds. For those that have already listened to this song, you might have noticed that synths are, of course, he core of this instrumental, and they are beyond addictive this time around. It had been a while since we’ve heard a lead synth like this one, addictive, far from being annoying and well used throughout the song – instead of the typical “let it loop in the background that no one will notice it” strategy that almost every producer nowadays thinks works well. As soon as the instrumental kicks off, we noticed a mix of electronica, trap and pop on it. Trap is specially found in the synth department, the one responsible for the majority of the instrumental. There’s something about having trap elements on this song that made it sound more mature than anything Kakihara has released so far. There’s synths for all tastes: from washy, dirty, glitchy synths, never forgetting to bet more on semi-tones in order to give off a dark, sinister vibe – although with minimum impact on this instrumental. The buildup, the lead synth and the beat are all on point, making this song one of the best dance tracks we’ve listened to so far in 2018. On the vocal end, Kakihara brought his best game to the table, determined to grab the listener’s attention. As smooth as ever, he fit like a glove on this party-driven instrumental. Hands down Kakihara‘s best dance track. 5/5
Kakihara gears up for a sweet acoustic pop tune, something we wish he’d have more on his repertoire. Focused on a warm, natural sound, embracing slow paced piano melodies and acoustic guitars, this minimalistic instrumental will instantly wrap the listener in a laidback, cozy blanket. Simple melodies, funky elements – the guitar licks are mainly responsible for this department -, and an overall stunning vocal performance are more than enough to pique our interest. ごめんね、ありがとう。might not be a full fledged ballad, but its hints and tone are fairly close to it. Kakihara did almost everything on this song – the high notes in the backing vocals, his trademark smooth mid-tones, added flourishes and proved to everyone that his vocals are as stable and consistent as ever. This is the type of sweet tune that is made to brighten your day. Sweet and simple. 5/5
To wrap up this release we find “MOVING“, another dance track to add to his repertoire and, at the same time, drag the listener to the dancefloor. A progressive piano melody leads the way for this uplifting electronic pop tune. Despite the fact that this song lends most of its instrumental to dance elements, this song is far from sounding even closer to the title track. Its vibe is a polar opposite to the title track’s. The lyrics are uplifting and encouraging, implementing Kiramune‘s brightness in a crafty way, avoiding overwhelming the listener or turning into a hot mess. Toning down the brightness while embracing a more mature sound was exactly what was done for this song. On the vocal end, we found Kakihara rapping and singing comfortably. On the verses we find him mixing rapping with singing and the results are great. He sounds melodic and groovy at the same time, making this song even catchier. On the other end, the chorus demanded a consistent performance and that was exactly what he managed to deliver. With his singing skills polished, Kakihara sounded incredibly comfortable whether going up or down the scale. Yet another powerful performance worthy of everyone’s time. Want an uplifting tune to brighten up your day? This is exactly what you’re looking for. 5/5
Perhaps something that Kakihara’s longtime fans were missing was the danceable sound from his debut days. Well, “DIAMOND BEAT” did its best at winking at those days and, at the same time, adapting to a matured singer in Kakihara. The title track easily stole the show on this single. Everything about it was crafted in a way that we’ve avoided having overlapping synths that wouldn’t fit together and strayed away from Kiramune‘s almost mandatory “bright/peppy” vibe.
As a singer that has matured in his career as a solo artist, Kakihara keeps impressing with his improvements on the vocal end. Although the title track was far from having the vocal track as the greeting card, the same can’t be said about the warm acoustic pop tune we found in ごめんね、ありがとう。That was the only song on this release that demanded a more technical approach to the singing and Kakihara was more than up for the task.
Ending on a powerful note was something we weren’t expecting from this release. However “MOVING” brought to the table a danceable sound that made this album sound consistent and come full circle. We kicked off this release with an electronic driven song and despite the changes in tone midway through, we ended up this release with yet another danceable track. Brighter than the title track and exuding and uplifting vibe, this song instantly snatched our attention. Kakihara added a bit of flare to his singing for this tune, shifting between melodic oriented vocals to a mix of mid-tempo rapping and laidback singing in the first couple of verses. It was a fresh approach that made the performance all the more enjoyable.
As much as we might have enjoyed Kakihara‘s previous releases, especially “ 進ませろ” (Susumasero) that we ranked 5 out of 5, “DIAMOND BEAT” easily ranks as Kakihara‘s best release to date. After a couple of shaky releases, it’s nice to see and listen him finding his groove once again. DIAMOND BEAT‘s overall consistency – instrumentals, lyrics and performances – was key to create a mature sound that caters to all demographics in his fanbase. “DIAMOND BEAT” is a gem of a release, the best we’ve heard from Kakihara.
“DIAMOND BEAT” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.