Trignal “Back To Basic” (Review)

Back to Basic” had Trignal showcasing their maturity and experimenting with new music genres, embracing and polishing old concepts and tunes, all to impress and satisfy their fanbase.

Title: Back to Basic
Label: Kiramune
Release date: 20/12/2017
Genre: J-Pop/Disco/Ballad/Rock

Tracklist:

1. 原点回帰Ready Set Go!
2. ローリンローリン 
3. Love holic 
4. 無責任×アンリミテッド 
5. Live the Love Story 
6. HAPPY WEDDING SONG 
7. Fighter 
8. 天使と悪魔 (lyrics: Nobuhiko Okamoto) 
9. My pace, My road 
10. 優しい声 (lyrics and composition: DAIGO)

Track by track analysis:

1. 原点回帰Ready Set Go!

Trignal kick off this album in a an upbeat fashion. Embracing a pop-rock sound in which synths and fast paced hi-hat driven drums and playful guitar riffs coexist. Guitar licks and drums set a slow pace to this track in the verses, leaving more than enough clear path for Trignal‘s vocals to entertain you. The song grows in tension, however, the build up to the chorus doesn’t have the best pacing, making it sound like the chorus was simply pasted after the verses, with little to no smooth connection between both. Regardless of that part, the chorus explodes in energy, grabbing the listener’s attention with the catchy lyrics and playful synths. For those, like us, that love a good guitar solo, the bridge provides you with a rather exciting and crafty solo. On the vocal end we find and engaging performance by the talented trio. This song, more than a top tier performance, demanded something fun, simple and relatable. Trignal‘s performance managed to achieve all three things. “Genten kaiki Ready Set Go!” is sure to lift your spirits with its uplifting lyrics, fun instrumentals and engaging vocals. 4.5/5

2. ローリンローリン
Slowing down the pace, “Rollin’ Rollin’” is a sweet, laidback pop-rock tune that embraces rhodes piano melodies, strings, brass, acoustic guitars, a noticeable bass line and simple, snary drums. This semi-acoustic instrumental has a classy and delicate touch while keeping that trademark bright touch, usual in Trignal‘s songs. With such an easy-listening instrumental we were expecting a more consistent and engaging vocal performance, however this performance fell a bit short for us. Aside from the usual catchy choruses performances that are a trademark for this trio, the vocal performances felt, at times, a bit empty and disconnected with the song. Had the potential to be a great song, unfortunately it didn’t pan out. 3.5/5

3. Love holic
Love holic” will take you on a trip to an 70’s disco sound, embracing funky bass lines and guitar riffs, disco’s trademark laidback strings sections, atmospheric pads and a simple hi-hat + snare drums combo. This instrumental alone is a bundle of fun, filled with fun melodies, catchy choruses and delivering an exciting guitar solo. The instrumental along is incredibly entertaining and addictive. For this performance, Trignal focused themselves on two things: matching the instrumental’s fun/party mood and, at the same time, deliver a melodic performance. The highlight in this department goes to Takuya Eguchi that delivered a full fledged, groovy performance, relying on his smooth mid to low tones to impress us. Ryohei Kimura‘s ad-libs and Tsubasa Yonaga‘s complete performance wrap up this song in the best fashion. A throwback gem. 5/5

4. 無責任×アンリミテッド
If you’re familiar with 90’s or early 00’s Japanese pop music, this tune is certain to resonate with you. There’s a major focus on brass, tambourine and bass elements, creating an entertaining and simple instrumental with some enka touches, one that you could perhaps find as the opening theme for a sentai series. This instrumental might not pique the interest in most Trignal fans because: sounds a bit dated, is cheesy at times, and has never been attempted by them before. On our side, we can only say that, some cheesiness aside, this instrumental is fun and shows a completely different side to this unit, willing to try new things in order to entertain their fans. The vocals have a slight enka touch, however don’t expect a full out enka performance. Their performance is engaging to the point that you’ll find yourself singing along to the chorus when you least expect it. A fun addition to this release. 4.5/5

5. Live the Love Story
Completely changing gears, “Live the Love Story” brings back Trignal‘s pop-rock sound. Fans are greeted with an upbeat instrumental that features mid-tempo snary drums, bright piano melodies, simple guitar riffs and a noticeable bass line. The finishing touches are added by the delicate strings, that make their appearance in the chorus. We felt like this instrumental had its issues. Right from the start, the progression was predictable, there was a lack of fresh elements or something that would sound new. At the same time the composition felt too clean, excessively by the book, making this instrumental sound a bit generic and dull at times. The vocal performances were, unfortunately, nothing out of extraordinary. Even by their upbeat, bright standards, their performance fell a bit short. It lacked energy and consistency. 3.5/5

6. HAPPY WEDDING SONG
And the gears change once again as Trignal embrace a R&B + disco instrumental. The listener is greeted by a textbook R&B rhodes piano melody, leading the way through the simple mid-tempo beat, funky guitar riffs, groovy bass line, soothing synth pads and some classy strings bits. The verses are rather quiet, leaving a lot of space available for the vocals to shine alongside a bass imbued melody. The chorus is rather simple and to the point “HAPPY WEDDING SONG” has the kind of instrumental that fits best with Trignal‘s vocals. With uplifting lyrics and a laidback, funky instrumental we found the vocal performances to be just as good. The performance was enjoyable due to their smooth, melodic vocals and comfortable delivery. There’s no way this song won’t put a smile on your face. 5/5

7. Fighter
And because staying on the same page for the whole album would be too dull, “Fighter” changes gears. Guitar riffs lead the way, alongside an electronic pop-rock song that nods at 90’s, early 00’s compositions of the genre. The instrumental for this song is rather simple, putting dreamy synths, bassy synthetic drums, gated guitar riffs and a simple bass line all in the same page. The simplicity made this song sound more powerful and serious than we expected. On the vocal side, we find Trignal tackling some of the trickiest lyrics for them – filled with English and tempo changes. The MVP is clearly Ryohei Kimura. His slightly husky tone in the intro and the honeyed mid-tones throughout this song made his performance stand out from the rest of the unit. His singing was on point, his rapping was groovy, and even his English pronunciation was the easiest to the ears. Of course, the other members also had great performances but his was the one that shone brighter. “Fighter” is a fantastic and unexpected addition to this release, one we can’t get enough of. 5/5

8. 天使と悪魔
Heavy guitar riffs lead the way for this fast paced rock tune. It’s not often that you kick off a song with high throttle guitar riffs, fast paced double bass drums, slap bass melodies and dramatic strings, all in the same place, well, at least for Trignal. Known for their brighter sound, this song is a complete surprise. The instrumental’s fast pace and energy stand out from the start, overwhelming the listener. The blend of drama and funkiness is strangely well done, all thanks to Nobuhiko Okamoto‘s lyrics, that helped shape this powerful instrumental. Trignal found themselves in new territory with this song. Fast paced songs and heavy rock tunes aren’t exactly their forte nor something that have delved in with more focus. However, their performances were surprisingly good. Not only did they match the instrumental’s energy, but they also delivered a consistent performance filled with falsetto, groovy rap parts (courtesy of Takuya Eguchi) and solid harmonies. This sound might be new to Trignal but they pulled it off as if they had been doing this since their debut. A nice change of pace and the dark horse on this release. 5/5

9. My pace, My road
And back to bright, upbeat pop songs without a care for the world, Trignal introduce us to the fun “My pace, My road“. The song blends ska, pop and Latin elements to create this summer-y instrumental. Brass, piano, bongos and strings are the elements that stand out the most for this song. This playful instrumental winks at Trignal‘s debut days songs but delivers a more consistent and engaging performance that those. The vocal performances are entertaining and filled with energy, the fast paced lines in the chorus were especially ear-catching, contributing a lot for our enjoyment when listening to this song. “My pace, My road” is the kind of song that you’ll want to listen to to get energized or dreaming about summer vacation. 4.5/5

10. 優しい声
This slow paced, semi-acoustic rock ballad was written and composed by Breakerz’s DAIGO, a well known friend of the trio. Upon listening to this collaboration, some wondered how would actually sound something that DAIGO had written for Trignal, known for their peppy songs and simple pop tunes. What we got was something completely unexpected. We couldn’t ask for a better way to wrap up this release than with a song dedicated to their fans. The emotions in the lyrics and instrumental are certain to touch the listeners’ feelings. From the delicate strings, to the pacing and build up to the bridge (a highlight that will give you chills) or even the chorus, this instrumental didn’t fail to impress us. Kimura‘s falsetto, the stunning high notes courtesy of Yonaga, Eguchi‘s emotion-filled vibrato and their harmonies, all contributed to make this song the highlight of the album and rank among Trignal‘s best songs. A gem that will put you in tears. 5/5

Final rating:

Trignal‘s “Back to Basic” was close to being the trio’s best album but a couple of mishaps made it rank slightly lower in comparison with 2014’s “so funny“. Although sharing the same rating, “Back to Basic” fails to meet the quality the previous release had, even with the various improvements the unit has made in the past 4 years.

Back to Basic” is filled with new songs – contrary to what most artists do of bringing back some of the singles released between albums -, and all of those managed to revisit or re-imagine the unit’s previous takes on some music genres or concepts and even brought new things to the table. From rock to pop and even disco music, fans are presented with a complete release that has on vocal duty a mature group that, as of late, has upped their game in that department. The instrumentals have their moments of brilliance, with songs like “優しい声“, “天使と悪魔“, “Love holic” and “HAPPY WEDDING SONG” standing out for how fresh they sounded – either because it was a first time for Trignal tackling it, or because it was a fairly new approach to a genre the trio had previously tried. It was rather refreshing to find that each song was different from the next one, setting completely different moods, trying to avoid sounding dull or repetitive. This is a release that sounds more like Trignal just having fun instead of a group strictly following a set concept. We found this to be a major plus on this release.

Like we mentioned before, the group has matured a lot in the last two years. Now, more than ever, we notice just how well defined the roles for everyone are. Regardless of the song, its genre or progression, we’d most likely find everyone embracing their roles and delivering solid performances. Takuya Eguchi is the versatile singer that also happens to be the resident groovy rapper that tackles with ease the fastest sections on some of this album’s songs, on the other hand Ryohei Kimura is always there for a melodic tone or a bit of falsetto, all while Tsubasa Yonaga has the well needed high notes, consistent falsetto and solid mid-tones that lead the way during most of the choruses on this album. The unit’s chemistry is at their best right now. Not only does the group sound great (with a few exceptions) but they are performing better than ever. Still, we felt like this album could have explored better the trio’s improved vocals. There were seldom songs that required more than a simple falsetto-ed note or a sniff of vibrato. Knowing how talented the group is and how much they have improved in the past few years, it was a bit disappointing to not have the unit pushing themselves further with this album.

Trignal pulled off an array of fun, unique songs that will certainly satisfy their fanbase. “Back to Basic” ends up being a fresh, uncharacteristic and unique release, even with all its flaws.

Back to Basic” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.
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