Trignal “tricolore” (Review)

Trignal celebrate their 5th anniversary since their debut with “tricolore“, special release that will please their fans – from longtime to newbie fans – with a wide variety of songs, music genres embraced and approaches adopted. This is their most consistent release since “One step forward“.

Title: tricolore
Label: Kiramune
Release date: 11/04/2018
Genre: J-Pop/Rock/Jazz/Dance

Tracklist:

1.ジンセイイチドキリ 
2.Drunk in love & drunk in drunk 
3.君だけが見られない 
4.Catch a Break 
5.Siren Fairlady 
6.結び糸
7.U~君がいてくれたから~ [title track]

Track by track analysis:

1.ジンセイイチドキリ

We kick off this mini-album with the playful ska-pop tune “Jinsei Ichidokiri” (One-time life). There’s something about this instrumental that instantly takes us back to the 90’s, especially when ska-pop and ska-punk bands were the trend. At the same there are some surfer-rock influences on the instrumental – mainly thanks to those guitar riffs and licks in the chorus. The instrumental counts with a thoroughly entertaining bass line, funky guitar riffs, minimalistic upbeat piano hits, brass (an essential part  and snare-y drums. Playing around with rock, reggae and pop elements brought to life this playful tune that is certain to light up your day.

The vocal performance was as expected from Eguchi. Comfortable but never forgetting to go the extra mile to impress the listeners – sometimes with ad-libs, others with falsetto. If this song is entertaining, part is due to his performance.

This isn’t the first time he has performed solo on Trignal‘s releases. Back in 2014, for “too funny“, he performed the 90’s inspired rock track, “延長線上のFriends“. One thing this song has in common is that throwback sound. This was the first time fans got to experience Eguchi‘s lyricist vein. Surprisingly, he penned lyrics for a throwback 90’s ska-pop song with some hints of surfer-rock. It also unexpected to have such a song opening this album, setting a playful, laidback tone for the rest of the release, but after listening to this whole mini-album, it makes sense. This is the kind of song meant to be enjoyed in the summer. Fun and entertaining. 4.5/5

2.Drunk in love & drunk in drunk

Drunk in love & drunk in drunk” keeps up that playful vibe and introduces us to an upbeat jazz-rock song. The instrumental is filled with exciting and fun elements. The old-school keytar makes its entrance, alongside harmonica and rhodes piano to give that retro/old-school jazz-rock touch. Adding to this already promising recipe are brass,  blues-y guitar riffs and a noticeable bass line.

Exploring his love for alcohol, Ryohei Kimura wrote the lyrics for this song. Adding women to the conversation made this song light-hearted and thoroughly enjoyable. This was a completely different approach, especially when his last penned song was “Naughty”, song that had a completely different vibe and story behind. On the vocal end, Kimura delivered a comfortable and energetic performance that makes the song quickly stick with the listener. 5/5

3.君だけが見られない 

Tsubasa Yonaga is the third one up for his solo song. “Kimi dake ga mirarenai” changes gears on this mini-album and introduces a retro electro-pop sound that, up until now on this release, hadn’t been explored. The focus is put on glitchy, 8-bit inspired synths, strong bass lines, clap track and simple hi-hat driven synthetic drums. This simple instrumental brings a party mood to this release, somehow reminiscing with some of Trignal‘s earlier songs. Out of all solo songs, this is the only one that wasn’t written by the one performing it, however it still has Yonaga‘s colors. His upbeat and peppy personality shines on this tune. On the vocal end, his performance was a bit weak in some sections – mainly in the verses -, thankfully, his performance in the chorus put this song back on track. Bringing the party to you, “Kimi dake ga mirarenai” is yet another energetic tune to add to this mini-album. 4/5

4.Catch a Break

Gears are changed once again as we’re greeted with a fast-paced rock tune. The song kicks off with raging guitar riffs and heavy, double-bass drums. But if you’re expecting an all out rock tune, “Catch a Break” introduces some electronica elements into the mix, mainly through the addition of synths in the chorus (and some parts of the verses) and manipulated vocals in the verses. The instrumental is rather imposing, especially with the drums and guitars being aggressive from the get-go, and has interesting interplay with the synths. Some tempo changes were welcomed to this instrumental as well – mainly to add more power to the bridge and an exciting touch to the chorus. Eguchi went out in the vocal department. Every single bit of vocals you find on this song it’s his. From those high pitched backing vocals in the verses, to the deep toned vocals in the bridge, manipulated vocals in the verses and his overall comfortable mid-toned ones, he gave us a taste of his versatility. “Catch a Break” is an unexpected pearl yet again penned by Takuya Eguchi. 5/5

5.Siren Fairlady

And if heavy guitars and thunderous drums work isn’t really your thing, Ryohei Kimura makes sure you’ll enjoy this summer-y dance tune. “Siren Fairlady” adopts a fairly simple formula. Everything about this song was built around synths, with dreamy synth pads playing a major role into creating a summer-y soundscape for the listener to enjoy. Aside from those dreamy synths, the instrumental adds a simple beat, and a variety of synths including washy, seesaw and arpeggiators, all enveloping Kimura‘s trademark husky voice. The build up to the sudden drop was perfectly executed, and what awaited us after the drop was a nice surprise. The chorus is the simplest you’ll get, however it’s strangely alluring and addictive. Better way to understand this is to listen to it so I’ll refrain from touch on it. From the vocal execution to the song’s progression and its overall result, “Siren Fairlady” is a well crafted, full-fledged dance tune that sounds nothing alike what you’d expect from Kimura, however it’s, at the same time, something incredibly typical of him. Addictive and fresh. 5/5

6.結び糸

Now this song has a rather unique instrumental. Mixing traditional Japanese instruments – shamisen – with funky bass lines and blues-y guitar riffs seems like a recipe for disaster, however it sounds strangely natural after I listened to it. “Musubi ito” brings the best of both worlds to the table, delivering an instrumental that is as much old-school and traditional as it is contemporaneous. Exciting brass, synths (these ones mainly playing in the background during the pre-chorus and chorus) and some hints of dubstep-ish drums (triplets and glitchy drum parts) are the other instruments for making this song an entertaining listen.

This is the first time fans get to experience a song penned by Tsubasa Yonaga. Surprising everyone, the lyrics are incredibly rich and playful, fitting with the instrumental and his classy, upbeat vocal performance. It’s satisfying to listen to Yonaga tackling a song one his own and acing it. Kudos for his performance. “Musubi ito” is the kind of dance tune that, despite being unique and odd at times, quickly draws you in with its addictive chorus and funky bass. 5/5

7.U~君がいてくれたから~

To wrap up this mini-album, we have the trio back together to perform the sweet, fan dedicated tune, “U ~ Kimi ga ite kuretakara ~“. A simple, washy beat and clap track set a comfortable tempo for this song, allowing for arpeggiator synths, funky guitar riffs, a groovy bass line and marimbas to carefully craft this tropical, summer-y tune.

For those that might not be fond of tropical imbued music – and the whole tropical house trend – like myself, you’re in the clear with this track. The “tropical” touch to this instrumental is minimal and in no way spoils the rest of the song. It was added in a rather refined way, not taking much of the spotlight from the bass – this one is clearly the best sounding instrument on this song, and the core of the whole track – and staying away from any house music trends.

The verses are rather quiet, mostly with marimbas on top of the simple hi-hat, snare combo beat, allowing for more focus to be put on the vocals. The verses build up perfectly for the sweet chorus in which seesaw synths add some spice to this laidback instrumental.

The vocal performances are beyond what we’d expect from Trignal. Sure, they have delivered some pretty solid and impressive performances in the past, however, none was like this one. Their harmonies are smooth and chemistry filled, something that the listener can immediately notice while listening to this song. Also, not forgetting to mention, that falsetto in the chorus is beyond impressive. I couldn’t find a better song with which to wrap up this mini-album. Sweet, simple, filled with love for their fans and flawless vocal performances, “U ~ Kimi ga ite kuretakara ~” is a stunning song. 5/5

Final rating:

Trignal celebrate their 5th anniversary mini-album with a impressive release. “tricolore” takes the trio through a wide array of songs, most with lyrics penned by its members.

tricolore” shows their growth in the best way possible: by allowing its members to pen their own songs and choose which instrumentals they’d perform. What we found with this approach was that despite Trignal being a chemistry filled group with their distinctive color, its members are incredibly different and approach music in completely different ways. Takuya Eguchi tends to write lyrics or perform songs that make you revisit past melodies and throwback music genres. “Catch a Break” is easily the best solo song he’s performed as part of Trignal and the lyrics are actually quite good. You’ll find yourself having a blast to his solo songs. On the other hand, Ryohei Kimura likes to explore his personal tastes and putting his experiences on paper as he embraces rock, jazz and dance music with ease. He’s Trignal‘s most prolific and experienced lyricist, something that we can tell just by paying attention to his lyrics in “Drunk in love & drunk in drunk” and “Siren Fairlady. Yonaga Tsubasa” penned a song of his own for the very first time, and it wasn’t what everyone was expecting. Surprisingly, Tsubasa has a unique color that stands out with his lyrics on “Musubi ito” and ultimately, the instrumental he chose to go along with those.

U ~ Kimi ga ite kuretakara ~” is the perfect track to wrap up this mini-album with. It’s sweet, summer-y vibe and funky instrumentalization standout from the start, however its the lyrics and vocals that steal the show. The song is dedicated to their fans that have supported since day one or joined midway through, and their love for all interactions with them. While the lyrics give you a warm feeling,  Trignal are acing their vocal performances.  The song has quite a bit of falsetto imbued parts. This is certainly a first for the talented trio, that usually perform comfortable pop-rock songs or exciting dance tunes, none of these demanding much technicality. However, if people thought that Trignal wouldn’t be able to pull those falsetto sections, they’ll be surprised. The trio tackled those with ease, with even Kimura surprisingly leading the way on those sections. This just shows how much the trio has improved.

Five years ago, when Trignal debuted, we wouldn’t even dare say that Ryohei Kimura would turn into a solid singer and talented lyricist that he now is. We wouldn’t also say that Takuya Eguchi would write lyrics for himself or be Trignal‘s resident rapper (although he didn’t rap for any of the songs on this release, he’s wildly known because of his rapping skills), the same can be said about Tsubasa Yonaga, the member that we most feared would drag the group down, that now is a consistent performer with control over his vocals and, more than ever, comfortable in his role as a singer. Trignal have grown a lot since their formation, and we’re grateful for having been following this group since the start, experiencing all the changes and improvements they’ve underwent with each release.

tricolore” is a special release that will please Trignal‘s fans – from longtime to newbie fans – with a wide variety of songs, music genres embraced and approaches adopted. It’s also their most consistent release since “One step forward“.

“tricolore” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN.
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