(2)YOU changed things around, tweaking his sound and adding a bit of electronica and funk, to deliver this entertaining entry in the Dear Vocalist‘s Xtreme series.
Title: "Dear Vocalist Xtreme" Entry No.4 (2)YOU Label: Rejet Release date: 20/06/2018 Genre: Pop-punk
1 - NAKED 2 - Miserable 3 - Don't touch!! [DRAMA] 4 - It’s now or never. [DRAMA] 5 - アメのちハレ [DRAMA]
Track by track analysis:
1 – NAKED
Following the trend of having synths in all Xtreme releases, NAKED mixes rock with electronica. (2)YOU‘s trademark edgy pop-punk sound still dominates the instrumental. Splashy drums, distorted guitar licks and riffs create an upbeat yet aggressive sound that is catchy on a first listen. The insertion of synths, up until now with minimal usage in (2)YOU‘s music, ended up benefiting it, although this instrumental was already good enough to impress the listener without them. The instrumental has a satisfying upbeat tempo, not too fast yet fast enough to excite the listener. In the vocal department, Natsuki Hanae gives a confident performance, with few incursions to his higher register. As with anything pop-punk, this song is upbeat and catchy, add Hanae‘s performance and you get yourself of great song. 4.5/5
2 – Miserable
As soon as the intro kicks off, Miserable gets all playful. Funkyguitar riffs, a groovy bass line and bassy drums take over this song, introducing simple progressions and focusing on melodic, groovier sections. This alone introduced a completely different dimension to (2)YOU‘s music. In result the instrumental is fun, catchier, much cleaner and more melodic than most of the songs on his repertoire. This instrumental doesn’t need to put in much effort to capture the listener’s attention. The verses are simple, being the stage for all the funkiness on this track, whereas the chorus still packs (2)YOU‘s trademark power chord riffs and slow paced, splashy drums. This change of tone in his music and its execution made it stand out. Natsuki Hanae stepped up his game and brought a whole lot of vibrato and airy melodies to add his unique groovy touch to this song. A different approach to his sound but still as familiar and exciting as everything on his repertoire. 5/5
After listening to this release it’s safe to say that 2(YOU)‘s best release to date continues to be his entry in the Riot series. Although the songs included on this release are exciting and filled with fresh elements, some of the emotion and rawness in his sound seems to have been lost or at least watered down with this release.
For NAKED, we found 2(YOU) mixing pop-punk with electronica, however in a completely different fashion from previous releases in this series. While in other releases in the Xtreme series electronica took over almost completely (at times completely) the first track of the release, making the artist in question lose part of their trademark quirks, for this release, electronica is surely introduced by the hand of synths, but those are just enhancements to the instrumental, never taking the front seat, that one reserved for his trademark pop-punk sound. As exciting as the instrumental might have sounded, something was amiss in the vocal department.
Miserable introducing funk elements in this release came as a surprise. By listening to 2(YOU)‘s repertoire it’s easy to notice that, up until now, funk had never been in the equation (nor electronica). He excels in a specific blend of pop, rock and punk that has graced his fans with several exciting and catchy tunes over the years. For this song distorted guitar riffs, punk-ish drums and simple bass lines were replaced with melodic guitar licks, simple splashy drums and groovy bass lines, creating a friendlier sound that will appeal to both his fans or just casual listeners that are looking for an entertaining pop-punk tune with funk elements.
Natsuki Hanae performed all songs with a consistency that most would envy. As we all know, he’s got impressive control over his vocals and never sounds like he’s straining his vocals or forcing his tone. His singing is sweet, serving as a good contrast to the usual rawness in his pop-punk instrumentals. We would have loved to listen to his vocals trailing new territory or at least introducing something unexpected however, that didn’t happen.
We expected more from (2)YOU‘s entry in the Xtreme series, especially when taking into account how impressive was his repertoire up until now. Despite the small drop in quality, this single still managed to introduce a variety of new elements, all in a series of fresh and exciting performances certainly worthy of your attention.
“Dear Vocalist Xtreme” Entry No.4 (2)YOU is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.