Dear Vocalist‘s new series “Xtreme” kicks off in the best way possible. Consistency and balance were key for this release, one filled with rich instrumentals, improved vocals and some of the best bass and drum work in his repertoire.
Title: "Dear Vocalist Xtreme" Entry No.1 RE-O-DO Label: Rejet Release date: 21/03/2018 Genre: Rock/Pop-rock
1 - EXiT 2 - I am a Loser 3 - make a wish to you [drama] 4 - lead-off [drama] 5 - as ever [drama]
Track by track analysis:
1 – EXiT
EXiT is the first ever EDM imbued song on RE-O-DO’s repertoire. Known for his punk-pop sound, this song certainly trails new territory, acing it on its first try. Scratched gated synths introduce us to this electronic pop-rock tune. The mix between live and sampled instruments is noticeable from the get-go but is done in such a way that you can’t help but to enjoy it. Dubstep-ish drums blend with synthetic drums (and clap track) in the verses, only to give way to live drums in the chorus, a transition made in such a swift way that you won’t even notice it. It almost goes unnoticed but there’s a variety of groovy rimshots and hi-hat work on those drums, especially in the chorus, enhancing this instrumental’s funky, danceable vibe. The addition of turntablism throughout the song could have turned into a disaster but was pleasantly implemented in the instrumental. This lounge-y song isn’t complete without the grooviest bass line in RE-O-DO’s repertoire and some of the funkiest guitar riffs we’ve ever encountered on any Dear Vocalist release. On the vocal end, Masuda delivers one what I consider the best performance so far (as RE-O-DO). He showcases once again improvement in the vocal department. He’s the stablest ever (now comparing with everything else he’s worked on since his debut) and sounds incredibly comfortable performing this song. He’s comfortable and confident enough to bring out his trained and polished vibrato to make the chorus shine; at the same time he performs the verses relying on his sweet mid-tones, something that, on top of this funky instrumental, adds a nice touch. 5/5
2 – I am a Loser
Raw guitar riffs, powerful bass-y drums and slap bass lead the way for “I am a Loser“, song that brings to the table RE-O-DO’s trademark edgy punk-pop sound. Although this song is primarily focused on its strong, whole rock band sound, synths still play an role on it. The synths are used as accents for this song, mostly during the chorus and a bit during the outro. It’s this surgical. This way the song doesn’t fall much into EDM territory and keeps its edgy, raw essence intact. Other thing to point out on this song is that the pacing is great. A great rock song doesn’t need to be uptempo or too loud (not to say that there aren’t great rock songs that are like that) to make an impact and “I am a Loser” is an obvious example of that. Everything about this song follows the slow pace imposed by the drums. This whole slowing down mixed with those raw guitar riffs in the verses are instrumental in making a grungy 90’s vibe come to life. To wrap up the instrumental talk there’s no way the sweetest sounding snare on this release won’t be mentioned. Its clean and explosive crack is a beauty during the verses. Toshiki Masuda‘s performance is aggressive without exaggerating, gentle without completely softening the song, and is consistent through it all. It feels and sounds like a complete, top performance without any flaws. 5/5
RE-O-DO sets the bar high for other entries on Dear Vocalist‘s newest Xtreme series.
This is easily RE-O-DO‘s best release to date. In past releases there were some discrepancies in quality between vocals and instrumentals – with one being incredibly good and the other, in return, the other being lackluster or vice versa. His performance for the Wired series (2017) solved part of those issues but it’s with this Xtreme entry that he presents a polished sound and performance.
On this release we find two of the best songs in his repertoire as well as two of the best vocal performances given by Toshiki Masuda (as RE-O-DO). There’s something addictive about EXiT, song that embraced a groovier, danceable sound rooted on EDM elements such as synths and dubstep-ish drums to create a simple pop-rock tune with a loungy vibe. From the composition to the perfect ratio of live and sampled instruments, the stunning hi-hat and rim shot work, this song sounded the best on this release. This is also the sound that suits best with Masuda‘s vibrato-ed vocals.
On the other side we have “I am a Loser“, song that embraced a rougher and edgier rock sound. After listening to this song multiple times, it’s safe to say that everything about it sounds right and its replay value doesn’t seem to fade with further listens. The guitar work wasn’t as funky as the previous song’s but it was certainly entertaining to listen to those raw guitar riffs shredding their way to the chorus, hyping the listener in return. The bass work, not only on this specific song but both, was the best we’ve heard in RE-O-DO’s repertoire. Slap bass and strong, memorable bass lines paved the way for all instruments on this release. It was nice for a change to shift the focus from the guitars to bass. The drums work for both songs was surprisingly ear catching and tasteful. Between those groovy hi-hats and rim shows on “EXiT” and the warm, aggressive snares in “I am a Loser“, this release will please those that are fond of good drum work.
Toshiki Masuda upped his game for this release, presenting us with polished vocals filled with vibrato and that innate gentleness that has been his trademark for years. His tone doesn’t falter like in previous releases and there’s no excess nasalization when he has to tackle lower notes. This is the best we’ve heard of him so far.
In the end, RE-O-DO opened the doors for Dear Vocalist‘s Xtreme series in the best way possible. Strong vocal performances, rich, balanced instrumentals and consistency are just some of the greeting cards in what is RE-O-DO’s best release to date and a tough entry to beat in this series.
“Dear Vocalist Xtreme” Entry No.1 Re-o-do is available for purchase on CDJAPAN.