Ayumu Tachibana “aquamarine” (Review)

The VAZZROCK franchise encounters its first hiccup in aquamarine, release that lacks emotion and quality on the vocal end.

Title: 立花歩-aquamarine- 
Label: Tsukipro/Movic
Release date: 30/11/2018
Genre: Pop-Rock

Tracklist:

1 - DRAMA「雨過天晴」
2 - SHOOTING STAR!!
3 - REFRAIN
4 - SHOOTING STAR!!-off vocal-
5 - REFRAIN -off vocal-

Track by track analysis:

2 – SHOOTING STAR!!

This release kicks off with SHOOTING STAR!!, song that explores a softer sonority in comparison with other releases in the bi-color series and, most particularly, among ROCK DOWN‘s entries. SHOOTING STAR!! has a simple rock sound that has its highlights in a noticeable, driving bass line and delicate strings melodies. The verses are hyped up, much due to exciting guitar riffs and uptempo snare-driven drums. However, the way in which this song is structured ends up making all that excitement fade away. The song ends up sounding like a long verse with a bridge stuck in the middle and a couple of drum fills that signal – badly – the switch to what is the chorus parts. To make things worse, the chorus is the weakest past in the instrumental. It lacks tension and, instead of sounding like a different part within the song, it is more like a continuation of the verses. This is not the best sounding instrumental in the VAZZROCK franchise.

When it comes to the vocals, there are some interesting things to point out. Contrary to most seiyuu part of the VAZZROCK franchise, Taito Ban is not known for his singing skills. Well, for those getting a first listen at his singing, Ban isn’t what you’d call a good, technical singer however, what he does is more than enough to make his performance enjoyable. He shows consistency with his mid-tones and even adds some flavor to his performance with vibrato. 3/5

3 – REFRAIN

REFRAIN changes things around and embraces a more upbeat sound. This song gives off a sweet, warm vibe much due to the way bright synths, delicate strings, slow paced bass-driven drums, a noticeable bass line and strings were put together. This is an easy listening song that will put a smile on your face.

Taito Ban and Takuya Masumoto are on vocal duty for this song. It was rather interesting to find them working together this smoothly, especially when on previous releases – i.e ROCK DOWN’s 1st unit CD – they were the two members that sounded the most out of place and/or had no presence at all. For this performance Ban and Masumoto didn’t bring anything fancy but their consistency and enjoyable harmonies stood out. Ban should have been the main focus in this release however, it was Masumoto that stole the show with a solid, emotion-filled performance. 4/5

Final rating:

VAZZROCK‘s bi-color series continues to work towards each character having a distinct feel and sound. Rock Down‘s Ayumu Tachibana (Taito Ban) brings with aquamarine a softer, strings-driven sound that could have been much more than what we got. SHOOTING STAR!! is the best example of how disappointing and boring the song – that sounded good in the first couple of seconds – ended up being. The verses tried to inject some energy into an instrumental determined to be stale. Then there’s the issue with the chorus that is really subtle to the point that it sounds just like a continuation of the verses as opposed to a part in which emotions overflow and dynamics are at their best.

REFRAIN however, comes to save this release. With the help of an upbeat instrumental, a smooth, simple progression and Takuya Masumoto‘s vocals, this song shone. When listening to it, the listener won’t help but to feel that this is a “feel good” song. It has a relaxing, delicate touch that easily catches attention.

Taito Ban might not be the best singer in the VAZZROCK franchise but he does have potential to grow. His singing on both songs showed that he’s got some comfort with his mid-to-low register and can add – when needed – some flavor to his performances. That’s his upside. If he builds upon those fundamentals, he might impress in future releases. As it is right now, his singing sounds a bit rough around the edges and lacks emotion for the most part, making his performances uneventful.

All in all, the lack of emotion and quality on the vocal end make aquamarine the weakest entry in VAZZROCK‘s bi-color series.

VAZZROCK” bi-color Series (10) “Ayumu Tachibana – aquamarine –” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.

"VAZZROCK" bi-color Series / Ayumu Tachibana (Taito Ban) & Gaku Oguro (Takuya Masumoto)
Ayumu Tachibana (Taito Ban) & Gaku Oguro (Takuya Masumoto)

 

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