A’ “Dear Vocalist Xtreme” Entry No.6″ (Review)

Change and growth shaped A’‘s newest entry in the Dear Vocalist‘s Xtreme series. With the replacement of heavy electronica with funk-rock, listeners get to listen to a sweet and laidback sound that, up until now, was nowhere to be found in A’‘s repertoire.

Title: "Dear Vocalist Xtreme" Entry No.6 A'
Label: Rejet
Release date: 15/08/2018
Genre: Dance/Funk-rock

Tracklist:

1 - だからおねがいだから。
2 - ぱぴぷぺぽでらりるれろ
3 - TRUST [DRAMA]
4 - Dead or Alive [DRAMA]
5 - 1+1=∞ [DRAMA]

Track by track analysis:

1 – だからおねがいだから。

Dreamy synth pads, a vibrant lead, funky guitar licks and a warm bass line give life to “Dakara onegai dakara“. As it is tradition with A’‘s songs, we have in hands an entertaining song, one that relies heavily on synths and vocals manipulation to pull off a unique and addictive sound. Contrary to some endeavors in the past, this song didn’t embrace dubstep, which is a novelty. With dubstep elements out of the equation, the song sounds cleaner and easier to the ears. This change is as if the character has grown and overcome part of his issues – making way for a more composed and predictable instrumental as opposed to the chaos that reigned in previous songs. Additionally, the lack of dubstep elements gave way to the entrance of funky guitar licks, necessary to turn this song into a full-fledged 90’s french electronica (i.e Daft Punk) throwback.

On the vocal side, we find vocals manipulation – as it is usual -, but toned down enough to make Kimura‘s smooth vocals shine. He was one with the groove, delivering an all-rounded, entertaining performance. This is a one-of-a-kind song in A’‘s repertoire, a song meant for being on repeat. 5/5

2 – ぱぴぷぺぽでらりるれろ

The single wraps up with Papipupepo de Rarirurero, a laidback pop-rock tune that strays away from A’‘s trademark sound. Funk-rock elements helped shape this instrumental into this slow paced, melodic and sweet sounding piece. Usually, drums in A’‘s songs are sampled or not big nor loud enough, much due to the fact that synths make up for three quarters of the instrumental and are the main focus at all times. This time around however, and with a focus on a clean band sound, we got full, round drums with a nice sounding snare. Although most people won’t bother with this detail, I felt like it is an essential element that makes this instrumental stand out. Funky guitar licks, a noticeable bass line and a lo-fi piano melody give the final touches to this simple instrumental. Somehow, this drastic change in sound might make the song sound rather uneventful to some.

Finally, vocals manipulation is out of the picture (at least auto-tune is) and thanks to that we got a clean, sweet performance that made great use of Kimura‘s husky mid-toned vocals. Not the best song on his repertoire but certainly a fresh and welcomed addition to it. 4.5/5

Final rating:

The most eccentric musician in the Dear Vocalist franchise is back, however much has changed about his sound that might surprise those used to what he’d been doing up until now.

I feel like this is an interesting release that mirrors the character’s growth in the past 4 CDs. Initially, A’‘s music was erratic, a carbon copy of a troubled personality. That was a sound that was heavy on dirty synths, distorted guitar licks, with a focus on metallic sounds and performances that featured 75% (sometimes more) manipulated auto-tuned vocals. That sound, as raw and eccentric as it was, ended up morphing with each release, gradually turning into a softer and warmer, yet still entertaining blend of electronica and rock. This entry in the Xtreme series clearly showcases that growth, featuring two songs that, looking back at A’‘s repertoire, sound like they don’t belong yet they feel so right.

Dakara onegai dakara” isn’t his typical fast paced, dirty synth imbued dance track. Showcasing a more composed and consistent sound, this song shone with its summer-y vibe, much thanks to the addition of funk-rock elements and a fierce bet on a groovier and simpler dance-pop sound. Although there were a lot of changes in his sound, especially noticeable with this song, it still retained all that enthusiasm and energy that is characteristic of A’‘s sound. Looking back at his repertoire, we couldn’t have predicted that his sound would be this tame and sweet a couple of releases later. “Dakara onegai dakara” easily goes head-to-head with “Crazy≒Nutrient” as A’‘s best song released to date.

On the other side, we got ぱぴぷぺぽでらりるれろ (Papipupepo de Rarirurero), song that brought back A’‘s trademark onomatopoeia-ed titles. Even if, for a second, the title might have indicated that this song would go back to embrace his old-school, high-tension, dirty dance sound, truth is, this song went on a completely different direction. For the first time in the character’s repertoire, a textbook slow paced pop-rock appeared. A whole band sound took over this track and, alongside Kimura‘s vocals (now without auto-tune), we got a cosy song that exudes warmth from start to finish.

When it came to the vocal performances it’s safe to say that Kimura fit the moods for both songs and delivered two entertaining and groovy performances. His husky vocals were a perfect fit with the funk-rock that dominated this release.

In the end, and even with all the changes in his sound, A’‘s music is still the kind that always manages to put a smile on the listener’s face. A’ didn’t disappoint with a released filled with surprises and new experiments. Dear Vocalist Xtreme” Entry No.6 A’, although far from perfect, is an exciting and consistent entry in this series.

“Dear Vocalist Xtreme” Entry No.6 A'” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.

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One response to “A’ “Dear Vocalist Xtreme” Entry No.6″ (Review)

  1. Pingback: [Oricon Weekly] ROCK DOWN, A’, Fling Posse & Matenro and more featured on this week’s charts | The Hand That Feeds HQ·

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