“miserable masquerade” arrives to steal the show. Furukawa makes a flashy debut as a solo artist with quality jazz-rock instrumentals and smooth vocals, all to impress on a first listen.
Title: miserable masquerade Label: Lantis Release date: 04/07/2018 Genre: Jazz/Rock/Pop-rock
01.miserable masquerade 02.アンバランス 03.手紙 04.miserable masquerade Instrumental- 05.アンバランス -Instrumental- 06.手紙 -Instrumental-
Track by track analysis:
We kick this single with an up-tempo, hard-hitting be-bop jazz tune. The instrumental starts off slowly, with a delicate piano melody setting a quiet, relaxing tone to this song however, as soon as the intro transitions into the verses, there’s an explosion of colors, rhythms and melodies to explore. In the good old fashion of be-bop jazz, the complete focus was put on its fast tempo and the mix of intricate melodies that are as chaotic as they are in harmony with themselves. This makes “miserable masquerade” an instant upbeat tune, channeling a bit of euphoria through its erratic melodies to the listener. Trumpets and double bass played an important role into shaping this song into the crafty classic jazz piece we have in hand. The drums are playful and extremely technical, setting the song’s incredibly fast tempo. Jazzy piano melodies and blues-y guitar licks add the final layers of excitement to this instrumental. Makoto Furukawa didn’t spare a thing for this performance, especially when this is exactly the kind of music that best suits his singing tone. His performance was vibrant and refined, delivering sweet low tones and powerful vibrato-ed vocals. “miserable masquerade” is a classy energizer that needs to be listened to time and time again. 5/5
“Unbalance” puts aside the flamboyance of jazz and replaces it with the simplicity of pop-rock. This is a natural change of gears that fits perfectly with the tone of this single. Exciting guitar licks, bright strings melodies are at the forefront of this instrumental, being pivotal elements to make this whole upbeat vibe come to life. Strings take the spotlight to themselves a couple of times. While most would think that on such a high key, more than two bars would be enough to annoy the listener, truth is that that melody ended up working incredibly well on this instrumental, serving as a contrast to Furukawa‘s vocals. Listeners are also presented with an exciting guitar solo, a noticeable bass line and fast paced, snare-y drums, that add the final touches to this youthful pop-rock tune. On the vocal end, Furukawa put the playfulness from the previous track aside and turned on a serious switch for “Unbalance“, delivering a solid performance. 4.5/5
Gears change for “Tegami“, song that enlists the help of delicate strings and dreamy piano melodies to set a sweet, reassuring touch to this release. The uptempo brightness, that was reigning on this release, takes a backseat and lets this slow paced ballad-esque instrumental take over to impress the listener. When listening to this instrumental, it’s impossible not to notice the lingering melancholy on it, something to which the longing guitar licks and strings are the main contributors. Guitar work was simple yet straight to the point for this song with its highlight being the stunning guitar solo in the bridge. From the progression to the instrumentalization and the whole dreamy soundscape created, this instrumental is bound to impress. In the vocal department Furukawa puts to use his sweet vocals enhance the powerful instrumental and lyrics. Full of life and emotion, his performance has the listener’s attention in the palm of his hand. The perfect balance between a stunning instrumental and a simple, yet powerful emotional performance. Furukawa wraps up this release on a fantastic note. Easily the best song on this release. 5/5
Finally, and after years of proving his worth as a singer in multiple 2.5D idol projects, Makoto Furukawa got the golden ticket for a solo debut. The talented seiyuu got to accomplish one of his dreams and, at the same time, his fans got to experience first hand how Furukawa‘s music and lyrics sound like.
“miserable masquerade” is a whole journey in itself. The single explores dramatic and slightly theatrical themes on its title track, making the best of it with stunning be-bop instrumentals that bet on its erratic features to draw the listener’s attention. Jazz has certainly been one of the music genres most used in the past two years in Japan and, in multiple occasions, there have been some songs that have pulled off the genre close to perfection, however, none have been able of pulling off that 40’s jazz club vibe as this song did. The soundscape in “miserable masquerade” made us travel back in time the golden age of Jazz music. The erratically of be-bop and the fast paced melodies are catchy and refined, that, alongside Makoto Furukawa‘s sweet baritone vocals, took that song to another level.
“Unbalance” strayed away from that jazz vibe and introduced us to an inspiring instrumental that mixed delicate strings with an upbeat rock instrumental. It was a nice change of pace that provided the listener with a completely different look into Furukawa‘s lyricist skills as well as put him performing something that was unexpected, at least, taking into account that we’d just explored the flamboyance of jazz in the previous track. “Unbalance” felt more like a good track to connect the single’s best tracks “miserable masquerade” and “tegami” that a powerful song to impress the listener.
And the single wraps up with “tegami” a sweet sounding melancholic tune. The tempo goes down and a mesmerizing ballad-esque rock instrumental takes over. Everything about this song sound right, its tone grabs the listener’s attention while Furukawa‘s emotional performance grips the heart. After the jazzy flamboyance of “miserable masquerade” – still lingering in the listener’s head – and the inspiring pop-rock in “Unbalance“, “tegami” managed to connect with the listener and delivery an emotional layer to this release. This was a perfect closer track.
Furukawa showcased his lyricist skills, writing inspiring, emotional and dramatic lyrics for this single (he penned everything). That was an unexpected yet a pleasant surprise. Vocally, he showed why he’s currently one of the most promising and best singers among seiyuu. His singing is full of life and emotion, drawing the listener in with ease and he’s such a smooth singer donning a sweet vibrato that makes all his performances stand out.
“miserable masquerade” is a groovy single filled with great melodies, inspiring lyrics and emotional performances, perfect for a listening on an evening drive, walk on a beach or just an afternoon in a lounge. It’s tasteful, relaxing and exciting at the same time. It’s Makoto Furukawa‘s powerful first step as a solo artist.
“miserable masquerade” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.