Trickstar “Ensemble Stars! Album Series Trickstar” (Review)

Trickstar‘s first album “Ensemble Stars! Album Series Trickstar” is out. Expect an album with several interesting songs that will make it worthwhile.

Title: Ensemble Stars! Album Series Trickstar
Label: Pony Canyon
Release date: 27/02/19
Genre: J-Pop/Rock

Tracklist:

1- Rebellion Star 
2- HEART→BEATER!!!! 
3- 虹色のSeasons 
4- Welcome to the Trickstar Night☆
5- CHERRY HAPPY STREAM 
6- DIAMOND SUMMER
7- BREAKTHROUGH!
8- Infinite Star
9- ONLY YOUR STARS! 
10- STARSEEK WAYFARER 
11- My Starry Point 
12- Walking On My Sunny Road 
13- MAGICIAN'S PLAY!

Track by track analysis:

1- Rebellion Star

Rebellion Star kicks off with a groovy bassline and playful piano as the main elements in this track’s instrumental piece. With a couple of synths and synth pads added to the mix, this track has a certain jazzy influence, perhaps delivered by the piano, which combined with Rebellion Star‘s overall bright and cheerful instrumentalization has turned into a track with an instrumental piece that exude that never-ending youthful feeling. It is precisely that feeling that Trickstar has no problem pulling off in their tracks. At some point, we have a simple and funky guitar added to the instrumental piece, an addition that incorporated a nice twist to the instrumentalization. Vocal wise, each member is singing well, but Morikubo and Tomoaki really steal the show, especially in the chorus, whereas the other members, Kakihara and Kaji blend in more when all the members are singing together. 4/5

2- HEART→BEATER!!!!

Kicking off at the full power, HEART→BEATER!!!! is a medium tempo track with a lot of energy exuding from the instrumental piece. The drums, bass and piano as well as the string take the main stage in the first seconds of this track. Unlike what this track might lead on to think while listening to it for the first time, HEART→BEATER!!!! relies more on the strings as the lead in the majority of the instrumental piece instead of focusing on the powerful drum performance or the groovy bassline. The slight echo added to the vocal performances really transports the listener to a live performance by Trickstar. In this track Kakihara and Tomoaki are the stars, vocal wise, the first showing a controlled and stable performance and the ladder with an amazing vibrato that gave his performance a delicate yet beautiful touch. 4.5/5

3- 虹色のSeasons

Nijiiro no Seasons‘s intro is delivered by the guitar that alongside Kakihara‘s vocal performance lead the path into this track’s instrumental piece. A simple instrumental lead by the groovy bass, medium to slow tempo drums and guitar is all this track needs at this stage of the instrumental piece. However, unlike what the intro of this track gave away, the chorus takes on a more pop-rock approach as it is delivered by heavy guitar riffs and a medium tempo drum performance with little to no presence of the more bright elements once present in this track’s instrumental piece such as the piano and some synth pads. Right after the chorus, the guitar riffs are replaced by an acoustic guitar. It was interesting to incorporate a moment for all the members to sing together without much distraction from the instrumental piece. 4/5

4- Welcome to the Trickstar Night☆

Welcome to the Trickstar Night☆ has a playful guitar and piano as well as some synth pads that remind one of EDM music. Now, if you were expecting a full out danceable track you’re expectations will be frustrated. Other than the funky elements in this track’s instrumentalization, the instrumental is simple and it certainly gives the members space enough to shine as each one showcases one’s talent. The urging strings add a delicate and bright mood to this track that will mislead many when listening to the intro. One thing is certain, while there are tracks that seem to never end, Welcome to the Trickstar Night☆ will leave you thinking that it is a short track, as you’ll not notice it reaching the ending since it is such a pleasant track to listen to, and possibly one of the best in the album. 5/5

5- CHERRY HAPPY STREAM

A funky guitar takes over the first few seconds of this track’s instrumental piece, alongside the groovy bass and some trumpet action that only occasionally becomes noticeable. CHERRY HAPPY STREAM sounds like a track one’d listen to in the summer time, as it has a funky vibe to it but it is also bright and somehow refreshing. If there is one thing that one learns after the first chorus is that the trumpet and the bass are the main focus of this track’s instrumental piece, as well as some synth pads. Vocal wise, all the members more or less sing at the same time, so there is no real time for anyone to shine brighter than the other. However, one cannot ignore the fact that their harmonizations were well delivered. 4/5

6- DIAMOND SUMMER

[As previously reviewed]

Changing gears, “DIAMOND SUMMER” is your typical youthful pop-rock tune with a bright tone and exciting instrumental. Employing a simple blend of hyped guitar riffs, snary drums, once again a powerful bassline and an old-school rhodes piano, this is yet another song that will resonate with the listener. Even though the instrumental might seem perfectly fine at first, we found one section to be particularly overcrowded. The chorus might sound a little bit too much to handle with those background church/Christmas’ inspired bells joining the mix and taking the spotlight away from the rest of the instrumental. If you chose to ignore those, this instrumental is well worth your time. It’s exciting and will have you nodding along to it without you even noticing it. On the vocal end, we found Yuki Kaji standing out more than the rest of the members as opposed to his slightly lack of presence in the previous track. Just like with the previous song, this performance didn’t have any flaws. Everyone is in tune, performing their solo and ensemble parts with total comfort, even adding flourishes here and there. Solid performance. 4/5

7- BREAKTHROUGH!

[As previously reviewed]

Groovy, bass goodness. “BREAKTHROUGH!” relies on funky guitar riffs, classy strings, jazzy piano bassy drums and a mesmerizing slapped bassline to impress straight away. The verses are melodic yet a bit cumbersome to deal with as there are a lot of elements presented to you but the chorus (its ending melodic bit is to die for) and especially the pre-chorus and bridge are gold. The tension, the buildup and the way the instruments were handled on those sections, all left us in awe and begging to hear more of it. The vocals are on the same wavelength. Alluring, smooth, sweet and powerful but most of all, thoroughly melodic, the vocal performances are something too that will impress you. This is, hands down, Trickstar’s best song released so far. Addictive and groovy. 5/5

8- Infinite Star

A high pitched piano as well as some classy strings followed by a jazzy drum performance comprises the intro’s instrumental piece of Infinite Star. The groovy bass creeps in and becomes part of the instrumentalization that relies heavily on the strings and piano that we could listen in the intro portion of this track. As a medium of almost foreshadow the direction of the vocal performance, the strings lead the vocals to a higher register which ties well together with the rest of the mood in the after chorus. Infinite Star has delicate and quality vocals, that match the instrumental piece, especially when all the members harmonize together, it is then that we can listen to the power of their joint performance. Interesting touch add to this track’s instrumental piece is the fact that the intro and the outro are delivered by the same instrument, that high pitched piano. 4.5/5

9- ONLY YOUR STARS!

ONLY YOUR STARS! is the game’s intro theme song. With a synth piano playing the first couple of seconds into the track’s instrumental piece, we quickly are presented with a guitar and some powerful drum performance overflowing with energy that turns into momentum for the chorus, the moment for all the members show their prowess in harmonizing. Though perhaps with a different genre than other tracks of the unit ONLY YOUR STARS! still suits the members and the typical sound of the unit, simply with a different touch and that is the rock approach that persists throughout the majority of the track’s instrumental piece. 4/5

10- STARSEEK WAYFARER

STARSEEK WAYFARER is the first of the solo tracks in the album, and it is sung by Tomoaki Maeno. A high pitched and striking guitar performance is delivered to us from the get go. This track definitely has a funky side, provided by the groovy bass and the drums, as well as an instrumental piece that exudes summer vibes, most certainly provided by the same bass and the guitar, that despite not being the main focus of the instrumental piece, other than in the solo, it delivers that refreshing and interesting twist to STARSEEK WAYFARER‘s instrumental piece. Maeno’s vocals are on pair with the instrumental piece, although we wished there was no voice manipulation over his vocals as there is no real need to do so. Maeno delivered us a solid performance. 4.5/5

11- My Starry Point

Heavy arcade-y synths and guitars make part of My Starry Point‘s intro. From the intro we can say that almost certainly this track will have some rock elements incorporated with some synths and perhaps even EDM elements. To our surprise, those expectations were not frustrated. The chorus has the fast tempo drums, but also has a synth pad playing in the background that sound like water droplets making the listener all the more focused in that element as the chorus might be a little overwhelming for some. My Starry Point relies greatly on the energy provided by the drums and the guitars, and although in this track it sounds good, most of the time, in the chorus it may be a little too much to the point that you will not notice the guitar much, let alone the bass, but instead focus your attention solely on the drums and the synth aforementioned. 4/5

12- Walking On My Sunny Road

Walking On My Sunny Road has a rhodes piano, jazzy drums and an overall loungey and laid-back mood stuck to the instrumental piece. Showtaro‘s vocal performance also delivers the same emotion. More than jazzy, this track resembles the R&B genre especially in moments when the groovy bass and funky guitar are playing, and since the instrumental does not differ much from this, it makes it easy to notice every since change in the tempo of one or other instrument. As if Walking On My Sunny Road had not impressed enough, the quick acoustic guitar solo added even more flavor to this track’s instrumental piece. Showtaro is not particularly singing any different than usual but somehow his tone and way of approaching the lyrics made his performance so seamless that one cannot say he did a bad job, in fact it is quite the opposite. 4.5/5

13- MAGICIAN’S PLAY!

Giving off flirty vibes from the funky guitar and alluring strings, MAGICIAN’S PLAY! seems to take the same route as the previous track while taking it to another level. However, it seems like we were mistaken. It is true that this track has that alluring vibe embedded in the instrumental piece, but more than that it sounds like the trumpets and the groovy bass give it more of a festival or lively lounge performance than anything else. If there is something one cannot pretend not to noticed is the groovy bass and the funky guitar, as well as the equally piano. MAGICIAN’S PLAY! seems to incorporate classy elements and then gives it a modern twist, hence why this track’s instrumental piece is so addictive and alluring. Kaji‘s vocals mixed well with the energy and mood exuding from the track. 4/5

Final rating:

Ensemble Stars! Album Series Trickstar is an album that has several interesting songs and therefore is worth listening to. Be it the older songs or the new ones, this album caters to all tastes and to genres.

As the songs that have shone more in this almost we have to mention HEART→BEATER!!!! for its instrumental piece being so well conceived that one is lead to believe that at some point in the music the listener is in a live performance listening to the song in a live context; another track is Welcome to the Trickstar Night☆. There are some tracks that start and end and you’re conscious about when the song is about to reach its end, and then there are other that make you so immerse in the instrumental piece that you forget it will eventually end. Welcome to the Trickstar Night☆ is the ladder; then there is BREAKTHROUGH!, which is easily the best song of the unit released so far. It is addictive and groovy and there is no denying the potential in this track.

When it comes down to the solo tracks, we must say that each and every one of them were good songs, with Walking On My Sunny Road being the winner here. Showtaro‘s solo track had an interesting and unexpected instrumental piece, which from the get go picked our interest. Not only is the instrumental piece good but the vocal performance was also on equal footing.

In the future, we look forward to listen to Trickstar grow even more and to see which direction the unit will take.

Ensemble Stars! Album Series Trickstar” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.

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Author: Nadine Silva

Reviewer and News editor at The Hand That Feeds HQ since 2012. Based in Portugal. Translation graduate. Hobbyist piano player.

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