‘Buono!’ will always have a special place in my heart. I recall looking at groups outside AKB48 to expand my idol horizons over a year ago, and no H!P group made an impression on me like Buono. I loved that their releases have been dynamic and positive, made better by powerhouse vocals backed by a full band instead of cheesy sounding synths.
I felt a little wary about their latest single ‘Natsu Dakara!’ (translating to ‘Because it’s Summer!’), a song that many people have been saying was a departure from their rock sound. While I wasn’t really looking forward to checking it out, I was completely converted by the time it ended. There is a lot to love about ‘Natsu Dakara’.
It wasn’t the “nice-but-boring” song that I was expecting; It has an an incredibly soothing yet arresting melody that I still haven’t tired of, even after looping it for most of the afternoon. Kudos to the composer of the song, because it projects an irresistibly relaxed and feel-good atmosphere to a level that I’ve rarely run into in idol music. The vocals are also showcased extremely well with this song. ‘Natsu Dakara’ allowed for very subtle nuances in their voice work that made me appreciate their individual voices, especially that of Suzuki Airi; there’s an almost ethereal quality to her singing in this particular song that I found captivating.
As much as I love the song, it has some issues. One part that I felt needed improvement was the instrumentals. I love the simplicity of it, but I feel like some subtle tweaks could have fleshed it out. A little bit would go a long way to give it a fuller sound. The bigger issue I had with the song was the incredibly dull musical bridge. I consider the bridge to be an integral part of any song, and I found ‘Natsu Dakara’s to be tedious and an obstacle, rather than being something to enjoy. It was largely because of the choice to have Suzuki Airi speak throughout it, which I found didn’t add to the song and also felt far too long.
The PV is very pretty, but also pretty boring. The song is good enough that it actually makes the PV almost entertaining, but by itself, it’s a little flat. 95% of the five minute video consists of recycling singing shots, with the other five percent consisting of shots with the girls waving, opening a suitcase, and blowing bubbles. The PV lucked out with having a great song and some very pretty girls, but it couldn’t pull the wool over my eyes completely. I still give it a few points however, because the singing shots alone had some very charming performances.
Much like AKB’s trio subgroup ‘No Sleeves’, Buono’s singles are few and far inbetween. Seeing how 2010 only had ONE single from Buono, this year is already a vast improvement. I hope they’re able to squeeze out one more single before the year ends to bring the grand total to three. Despite my worries earlier this year about Buono switching labels to Zetima, ‘Zassou no Uta’ and ‘Natsu Dakara’ have nearly put them to rest.
Releases July 20th, 2011