Trickstar‘s “Ensemble Stars! Unit Song CD 3rd Series vol.10 Trickstar” had everything to be a top release: top tier smooth, technical vocals and funky instrumentals, however some issues kept repeating themselves across the release, making it slightly miss the mark.
The unit consists of Tomoaki Maeno, Tetsuya Kakihara, Showtaro Morikubo and Yuki Kaji.
Title: Ensemble Stars! Unit Song CD 3rd Series vol.10 Trickstar Label: Pony Canyon Release date: 06/12/17 Genre: J-Pop/Rock
1 - BREAKTHROUGH! 2 - DIAMOND SUMMER 3 - BREAKTHROUGH! (off vocal) 4 - DIAMOND SUMMER (off vocal)
Track by track analysis:
1 – BREAKTHROUGH!
Groovy, bass goodness. “BREAKTHROUGH!” relies on funky guitar riffs, classy strings, jazzy piano bassy drums and a mesmerizing slapped bassline to impress straight away. The verses are melodic yet a bit cumbersome to deal with as there is a lot of elements presented to you but the chorus (its ending melodic bit is to die for) and especially the pre-chorus and bridge are gold. The tension, the buildup and the way the instruments were handled on those sections, all left us in awe and begging to hear more of it. The vocals are on the same wavelength. Alluring, smooth, sweet and powerful but most of all, thoroughly melodic, the vocal performances are something to that will impress you. This is, hands down, Trickstar’s best song released so far. Addictive and groovy. 5/5
2 – DIAMOND SUMMER
Changing gears, “DIAMOND SUMMER” is your typical youthful pop-rock tune with a bright tone and exciting instrumental. Employing a simple blend of hyped guitar riffs, snary drums, once again a powerful bassline and an old-school rhodes piano, this is yet another song that will resonate with the listener. Even though the instrumental might seem perfectly fine at first, we found one section to be particularly overcrowded. The chorus might sound a little bit too much to handle with those background church/Christmas’ inspired bells joining the mix and tacking the spotlight away from the rest of the instrumental. If you chose to ignore those, this instrumental is well worth your time. It’s exciting and will have you nodding along to it without you even noticing it. On the vocal end, we found Yuki Kaji standing out more than the rest of the members as opposed to his slightly lack of presence in the previous track. Just like with the previous song, this performance didn’t have any flaws. Everyone is in tune, performing their solo and ensemble parts with total comfort, even adding flourishes here and there. Solid performance. 4/5
Trickstar have found themselves some groove with this release. “BREAKTHROUGH!” is one of the best songs in the Ensemble Stars!‘s franchise. Despite the fact that there were some parts in which we found some things going on in the instrumental that might distract the listener, the instrumental triumphs thanks to its funky sound. Smooth, melodic vocals on top of slap bass took this song to greater heights. There is no way you won’t be affected and infected with its groove.
“DIAMOND SUMMER” has a generic youthful pop-rock instrumental that also faces some issues with overcrowding sections in the instrumental, something that happens more often on Trickstar‘ releases than we’d wished. We also felt those bells in the background quite redundant for this song. Even though the whole vibe is bright and upbeat, it doesn’t mean that you have to go all out with the concept and overdo it. The instrumental was better off without those elements.
Trickstar‘s vocals are easily the best thing this group has to offer. Just listen to any of the two songs and pay attention to the performances. When you put Tomoaki, Kakihara, Morikubo and Kaji in the same group you should expect an explosion of smooth, vibrato imbued vocals, a lot of technicality in the mix and on tune, engaging performances. This release had everything of that and more, in what were two outstanding performances.
In the end, Trickstar brought to the table some of the most interesting and exciting tunes alongside what we consider to be some of the best vocals in the Ensemble Stars!‘s franchise, all in a release that was close to being perfect.
“Ensemble Stars! Unit Song CD 3rd Series vol.10 Trickstar” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.