Ensemble Stars! Album Series fine is out and with it, fine bring interesting sounding songs that enhance the quirks of each character, all the while maintaining the unit’s “sound” intact.
The unit consists of Hikaru Midorikawa, Takuya Eguchi, Ayumu Murase and Kotaro Hashimoto.
Title: Ensemble Stars! Album Series fine Label: Pony Canyon Release date: 30/01/2019 Genre: pop
01.終わらないシンフォニア 02.羽ばたきのフォルティシモ 03.Neo Sanctuary 04.RAINBOW CIRCUS 05.Tryst of Stars 06.Holy Angel's Carol 07.Miracle Dream Traveler 08.Genuine Revelation (performed by 旧fine) 09.SHINING STAR（Eichi solo） 10.Amazing☆World（Wataru solo） 11.Little Little Prince Star（Tori solo） 12.ずっと そばで…（Yuzuru solo）
Track by track analysis:
Owaranai Symphonia has a nice clean instrumental piece as its intro delivered by the playful piano, some splashy drums and synth pads that add more brightness to the track. What starts off as a seemingly bright and cheerful track turns into something that has a powerful and constant bass performance, as well as some guitar and drum work to complement Owaranai Symphonia‘s instrumental piece. Although this track retains the influence of, to a certain degree, a ball but with a modern twist to it, the strings are the best example. Instead of remaining more classic, we have a different approach that fits in with the bright and upbeat ambiance present in the track.
Concerning the vocal performance, it must be said that all members are singing their best and that shows when we listen to Midorikawa’s vocal control, Murase’s high pitched notes, Eguchi and Hashimoto’s medium notes, not forgetting the harmonizations in the chorus. With a quality instrumental piece such a Owaranai Symphonia the vocal performance could only be equally good, and that is precisely what we get here. 4.5/5
Habataki no Fortissimo kicks off with a prominent bass, piano and guitar. On a totally different page from the previous track, this one has a more pop oriented vibe with an added bright feeling by the strings and piano as they become a great lead in the chorus. At other moments in this track, the bass steals the spotlight. Habataki no Fortissimo has an instrumental piece that makes one imagine a ballroom and although simple sounding the instrumental piece has that energy that you’d find in fine‘s music.
Habataki no Fortissimo has the right amount of strings and piano incorporated into this track’s instrumental piece, so as to bring fourth all the cheerful and upbeat instrumentalization. 4/5
3 – Neo Sanctuary
With an intro focused on the guitar, bass and piano Neo Sanctuary kicks off with an instrumental piece that quickly turns on a new leaf and becomes more pop with some rock elements to the mix. The groovy bass and strings playing in the background are some of the constantly present elements in this track’s instrumental piece. Neo Sanctuary brings the pop-rock with a groovy bass and the strings and piano together to create an interestingly rich “sound”. It is almost as if the strings represent something frail, and the guitar and bass give some edge to the instrumental piece and makes this track different from others with the same genre. The main focus in this track is without a doubt the strings and bass.
Once again, we must not disregard the vocal prowess of this group’s members. It is especially noticeable that every member is doing his utmost best whenever there is an opportunity to harmonize. 4.5/5
4- RAINBOW CIRCUS
RAINBOW CIRCUS kicks off sounding like your typical marching bands, especially the drums, all the while incorporating a certain ambiance that leads on to think that we’re listening to the unit performing this track in a live performance. RAINBOW CIRCUS has EDM such as dragging and high pitched synths incorporated into fine‘s “sound”. Although it might come off as perhaps overpowering, this track’s instrumental really brings fourth that circus feeling, especially when the members talk with the public.
Vocal wise, the performance was very stable and interesting, especially when Midorikawa went to the high notes, but the other members also sung well. This is a track that well executed its theme and did not disappoint in that aspect. 4/5
5- Tryst of Stars
Returning to the more acoustic and medium tempo tracks, Tryst of Stars has a more relaxed instrumental piece, with a soothing performance delivered by the piano, strings and bass, as well as the member’s vocals. The chorus is the epitome of that feeling, not only because there were added some bells in the instrumental piece, but also because both the instrumental piece and the vocal performance were so well blended and in harmony that there is nothing bad to point out.
Tryst of Stars somehow has a certain ambiance that makes one believe that the track will not end, in other words that it is everlasting, all the while having also some resonance with music that we listen to on Christmas. 4.5/5
6- Holy Angel’s Carol
Holy Angel’s Carol has the piano and drums as the main focus in its intro, not forgetting the bells and strings that add more to the idea of this track being like a Christmas carol, but a new take on it, or more like fine‘s take on a carol. Holy Angel’s Carol does not lose in terms of retaining the “sound” this units usually produces. Strings, piano and groovy bass are all present in this track’s instrumental piece. We even have some time to appreciate the guitar solo and the sound of bells playing at the same time, once again leading us to the idea of this song being perfect for festivities. 4.5/5
7- Miracle Dream Traveler
Miracle Dream Traveler‘s intro leaves no space for doubts about what is the main focus in this track’s instrumental piece. The bass gives place to the strings and drums in this short intro. This tracks has once again returned to the upbeat but medium tempo approach. Miracle Dream Traveler has an instrumental piece that prioritizes the airy and playful instrumentalization, provided by the strings and pads as well as the piano and groovy bass that play together in the chorus.
This track has sort of retro touch to its instrumental piece, provided by the guitar and bass, especially in the outro, one can notice this influence in this track’s “sound”. 4/5
8- Genuine Revelation (performed by 旧fine)
Genuine Revelation has all the potential to be a great song, since it has Midorikawa, Kaito Ishikawa, Junichi Suwabe and Natsuki Hanae singing as the old fine. And perhaps because the old members of the unit are present, even the instrumental piece has a different vibe to them, even though it still has the strings and bass as well as some pads that we can still find in fine‘s songs now.
Vocal wise, we must say that the chemistry is different with these members. Especially because each one has a specific way of singing and bring a different color to the vocal performance. One thing that has not changed is the fact that the harmonizations remains high quality. 5/5
9- SHINING STAR（Eichi solo）
SHINING STAR is Midorikawa‘s time to shine in his solo song. This track has a more pop-rock feel to it, with some 90s influence delivered by the pads. The guitar and acoustic guitar add an interesting twist to the instrumental piece. Although this track has a different vibe from fine‘s tracks, it still has the piano, groovy bass and the pads that we can always notice in their songs. SHINING STAR has a “sound” that suits Eichi. A refined yet modern instrumental piece that is pleasant to listen to. 5/5
10- Amazing☆World（Wataru solo）
Amazing☆World is an upbeat track that translate into music the eccentric personality that Wataru has, be it by the way Eguchi is singing or for the instrumental piece synth pads driven. This track is certainly perfect or a live context as it has so much energy that makes one either jump or sing along. Amazing☆World has a bright instrumental piece with a medium to fast tempo that makes one all the more energized. If there is one person indicated to sing as eccentrically as Wataru is Eguchi and he did so with no hiccups whatsoever. 4.5/5
11- Little Little Prince Star（Tori solo）
Little Little Prince Star has that cute and adorable vibe to it that fits like Tori like a glove. With more synth pads and funky drum performance and moments when the groovy bass becomes noticeable, this track has embraced the bright and upbeat approach. In fact, the bass and drums, and the fact that this track has a faster tempo that we’d expect, Little Little Prince Star has a certain energy that make one be led to believe the listener is running after something. 4/5
12- ずっと そばで…（Yuzuru solo）
Zutto Soba de… has a cheerful instrumental piece, provided by the bright piano and synth pads. However, this track has a break we’d usually find in a EDM song, and some influence can also be felt in the buildups, with the drum triplets. Zutto Soba de… has the mix between a classic sound with the strings and piano and then a modern influence with the EDM elements added here and there, in fact it is interesting to pay attention to the instrumental piece to notice when they will appear. 4.5/5
Ensemble Stars! Album Series fine is full of interesting songs to listen to. All the good characteristics usually present in fine‘s releases were present in this album. The consistently high quality vocal performances and harmonizations were especially good in tracks such as Owaranai Symphonia, Neo Sanctuary and Genuine Revelation.
When it comes to the solo songs, every member’s song was perfectly catered to the character and that showed when the instrumental piece and vocal performances fit the theme and character.
All in all, this album is perfect for everyone in want of having an interesting time while listening to Ensemble Stars! Album Series fine.
“Ensemble Stars! Album Series Present – fine” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.