UNICORN Jr. mark their return to the music industry – after a one year hiatus – with the release of “KARA∞KARA“, single that showcases the trio’s revamped sound and polished vocals.
Title: KARA∞KARA Label: Rejet Release date: 26/09/2018 Genre: J-Pop/Dance
01 - KARA∞KARA 02 - 幻想歌 (ファンタジア) 03 - KARA∞KARA (off vocal) 04 - 幻想歌 (ファンタジア) (off vocal)
Track by track analysis:
KARA∞KARA brings to this album an addictive mix of dreamy electronica and rock. Looking at their repertoire, there are several songs that use this formula however, putting an emphasis on atmospheric synths, that create an airy and dreamlike soundscape, sure is a first for them. These synth pads blend with electric guitar licks to give it that unique edge that is common in UNICORN Jr.‘s songs. Aside from this, the instrumental embraces a bass-oriented sound that helps giving depth as well as set a groovy tone and comfortable pacing to this tune. On the vocal end, Aoi, Someya and Sawashiro impress with good harmonies and energetic solo parts. Not only an energizer, but also the best song on this release. 5/5
02 幻想歌 (ファンタジア)
Changing things around, Fantasia embraces a slower paced, yet danceable sound blending funk’s groovy bass lines and guitar licks with passionate Latin percussion. This song brings back UNICORN Jr.‘s well known tone setting intros and the energy as well as passion found in one of their best songs, Stranger (released in 2015). The instrumental counts as well with a core playful piano melody, strings and bongos to create a feel good instrumental that captures the listener’s attention within the very first notes. If there were any doubts that this song is good, the addictive chorus seals the deal.
Vocally, Unicorn Jr. showcase their synchronicity, harmonies as a unit as well a whole lot of improvements in consistency, especially coming from Chiharu Sawashiro and Toshiyuki Someya that now sound better than ever. Exquisite song with a simple instrumental and solid vocals. 5/5
It’s been a while since UNICORN Jr. had last released a single. Despite their absence for over a year, the talented trio is as in sync as ever and even brought a couple of new things with them.
KARA∞KARA brought to the table the best of this trio mixed with a dreamy instrumental, a first in their career. This change in sound came as surprise, especially knowing how this trio has consistently been releasing high-tension electronic pop tunes with rock undertones since their debut in 2015. Toning down their sound ended up doing wonders for Unicorn Jr.’s sound and vocals. There’s something about the instrumental’s simplicity that really draws te listener in. That, alongside the improved vocals Toshiyuki Someya and Chiharu Sawashiro and Shouta Aoi’s outstanding versatility, made this song stand out with ease.
Fantasia wrapped up this release in an interesting way. The song winks at Stranger, song part of their sophomore single After Burner (released in 2015), with its passionate Latin percussion and laidback vibe. However, instead on focusing on a louder and fast paced instrumental, Fantasia takes pride in its slow pacing and simple composition that give off a feel good, mature vibe.
Vocals have vastly improved and UNICORN Jr.‘s sound seems to have evolved into a simpler approach to electronic music, betting on more welcoming and easier to listen sound, as opposed to their old-school overproduced, high-tension sound that required a couple of listens to take in. These changes show that this trio has grown and is embracing what seems to be an interesting shift in their music direction.
As a whole, KARA∞KARA is a solid single filled with entertaining tunes, sweet, danceable melodies and polished vocals. Easily one of their best releases.
“KARA∞KARA” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.