Shouta Aoi “Harmony” (Review)

Shouta Aoi continues to perfect his formula and branch out in ways that we could have never imagined.

Regular
Title: Harmony
Label: King Records 
Release date: 02/10/2019 
Genre: Pop-Rock

Tracklist:

1 - Harmony
2 - SPOTLIGHT
3 - Fake of Fake

Track by track analysis:

1 – Harmony

A delicate piano melody and Aoi’s gentle vocals create the perfect intro for this song. The song quickly opens and introduces more dynamics, picking up its pacing through the bass-drum driven drums, upbeat piano melodies and simple guitar riffs. The song counts with simple verses that put the spotlight on Aoi’s vocals whereas the chorus has him sharing the spotlight with the addictive instrumental. The piano solo in the intro and the addition of strings add nice touches to this song.

On the vocal end, Aoi delivers a comfortable performance with some instances of falsetto, subtle high notes and a lot of enthusiasm to match the pop-rock instrumental. 4.5/5

2 – SPOTLIGHT

Gears shift for this tune. SPOTLIGHT introduces fans to a hybrid of rock, funk and disco. Funky guitar riffs, playful brass, alluring rhodes piano melodies, a groovy bass line and a solid bass-driven beat complete this addictive and unique instrumental.

This might be the first time that fans can listen to Aoi performing a song of this genre and with the unique approach we just witnessed. The technique used by Aoi in the chorus is quite unlike anything he has showed us so far. It taps into disco-type vocals, filled with sustained notes, crescendos and a whole of vibrato that, ultimately, added a lot of flair to this performance. Outstanding performance. 5/5

3 – Fake of Fake

An urgent piano melody is our introduction to the song however, this song has an interesting dark edge that comes through the overdriven guitar riffs that serve as transition points between intro, verses and outro.

The verses are delicate and slow paced, making great use of strings melodies, a danceable beat and, of course Aoi‘s sweet vocals that add a dual delicate and powerful touch to this song. Solid performance in what is quite an interesting song. 4/5

Final rating:

Harmony is an interesting addition to Shouta Aoi‘s repertoire. All songs have a lot of rock influences in the instrumentals contrary to what we could find in the previous release, TONE. Guitars and live drums are, more than ever, present. Even in SPOTLIGHT, this release’s highlight and a complete novelty in his repertoire in terms of sonority and vocal technique, there were rock and funk influences. The fact that this single has strayed away from pure electro-pop territory has made his music sound more mature and enabled the focus to shift from the instrumentals to his vocals only.

Harmony is an easy-listening, soft rock tune that has pop lyrics and a gentle performance on the vocal end. Fake of Fake is a song that is quite close to Aoi’s peppy pop, however the execution and progression ended up being quite different than expecting, introducing an interesting duality of truth and lies materialized in the contrast between brighter and darker bits in the composition. The vocals ended up being quite normal and without adding any novelty to this release nor his repertoire.

In the end, this release is well with checking out, especially after the incredibly fresh performance that we can. find in SPOTLIGHT. Disco music has certainly never been Aoi’s focus and his vocal technique, with emphasis on the chorus, is something we have never heard before. This single, as a whole, is well worth checking out, if not for the novelty of some hits and bits in his performance, for the pleasure of listening to Aoi’s gentle vocals and stellar technique.

Harmony is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.

 

Author: midorin

The Hand That Feeds HQ founder and music reviewer writing about Japanese music since 2010. After a 6 month stint in Macau SAR, I am back to being based in Cascais, Portugal. Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus" was the catalyst to completely focus on writing about male seiyuu music.

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