Join Garry as he reviews Espeica’s latest double a-side single “Ya・Me・Te! / Adventure wa Kiniro ni”.
Its been a while since I’ve written a review here on New School Kaidan. That’s for a number of reasons, not least lack of time, inspiration and things of that nature. Well 2014 is a new year and I’ve just made a promise to myself at 6am on this lovely Wednesday morning that if I find a single/album/whatever that I think people have to know about, I’m going to review it and talk words at you until you check it out.
Which brings us to this review where I’m sure you’ll have gathered by this point that I’m going to talk a lot about Especia and their new single “Ya・Me・Te! / Adventure wa Kiniro ni”. While doing so I’m going to do my best to ignore the fact that it’s a double a-side because readers of my This Week in Music column will no doubt know my feelings about those by now.
Instead let’s get right down to it, but first I’ll give you a few minutes to check out the PV for “Ya・Me・Te!” then we’ll come back, I’ll wax poetic for a few paragraphs, you’ll hopefully read it and we’ll all have a good time.
Readers of a slightly younger generation (says the almost 23 year old who grew up in the 90s) are probably staring at the screen in confusion while watching this PV. What are all of these strange camera effects and why are there scan lines all over the video? Could they not afford a good quality camera? What gives?
Well children, this actually is your daddy’s pop music video right here. You see, Especia’s thing is that they’re an 80s pop inspired idol group. That explains why their clothes, the PV and even the music (more on that in a bit) have a very distinct retro feel to them. It’s a pretty interesting concept that I haven’t seen too many idol groups do in quite a while.
Those of us familiar with 80s pop music will know that this is a fairly traditional take on music videos of that era. There’s always a risk when doing this kind of thing that you’ll come off as being some kind of cheesy tribute act but I think Especia have struck just about the right balance here. They stay true to the group’s inspiration without going completely over the top with it.
In this sense it’s a very well executed PV but I guess the main issue with it is that you don’t actually get to see any of the girls’ faces. That’s not a terribly big deal from an artistic standpoint but it sure makes my job of selling the group to new people a lot harder with everyone shrouded in mystery.
The song itself, which I haven’t even really touched on yet is also very typical of the time period. If I had to sum it up in a succinct way, I’d say that it’s a very “smooth” arrangement. I mean that in the sense that everything flows together and builds off of the things around it to create a complex and at times understated composition.
Like a lot of 80s pop songs, “Ya・Me・Te!” leans heavily on its bass guitar and brass instrument (in this case a trumpet and saxophone) components. These are what give the song its personality and rich sounds, something I wouldn’t mind seeing incorporated into more idol songs if the opportunity ever presented itself. What can I say, I guess I’m just a sucker for this kind of stuff.
It would be remiss of me to talk about the song and not touch on the vocal side of it. One of the things I probably like the most about Especia is that each girl has a distinct voice and we get to hear this come through in their music. It helps to give the song an edge that it otherwise wouldn’t have if everyone was auto-tuned and singing at the same time.
That’s probably enough about “Ya・Me・Te!” for now. I’ll let you take break from reading while you watch the PV for “Adventure wa Kiniro ni” then we’ll meet back here and I’ll knock the rest of this review out.
If you thought the PV for “Ya・Me・Te!” was super 80s inspired then the PV for “Adventure wa Kiniro ni” completely blows it out of the water.
The opening is a very typical 80s club inspired graphic that you would probably even still see today depending on what kind of establishments you choose to frequent (if you’re on an idol website, you’re probably not frequenting many clubs but I needed to make the point). It’s the sort of timeless thing that creates an air of familiarity to start off the PV.
Once the PV actually starts things get very colorful and very busy in a hurry. The eyes are assaulted with an array of special effects that are far from modern but of course they’re not supposed be. They’re there to add to the charm and to build up the music by enhancing the 80s feel that we’re supposed to be getting from everything.
If you’re used to super sterile and high pixel count music videos then this one isn’t going to look very pretty. That’s just the nature of the beast. If you understand what they were going for, I think it works well enough although perhaps it could have been dialed back just a touch.
Apart from all of the special effects and graphics featured in the PV, we actually get to see the girls in this one. Their role is fairly random in that they’ve been filmed destroying towers of blocks. The footage is initially played in reverse, the towers rebuilding themselves, it’s basic cinematography, you know the drill. Then towards the end of the PV the footage is just played regularly, the towers get destroyed, fun times were had by all.
I’m not sure how I feel about that part. It’s kinda weird (not like the rest of the PV isn’t or anything) and I’m not really sure it fits as well as they maybe hoped it would. I don’t know what the director was going for though so it’s hard to say.
“Adventure wa Kiniro ni” as a song is probably a bit more interesting than “Ya・Me・Te!” to the average person. The Daft Punk inspired opening at the very least seems more likely to make people sit up and take notice. It’s actually pretty catchy and a really nice touch if you ask me.
Obviously we’re sticking with the 80s theme on this song too. It’d be pretty strange if we didn’t at this point. I’m not sure how well this next statement is going to come off but “Adventure wa Kiniro ni” has a bit more “go” to it than “Ya・Me・Te!” does. I mean that in that it has more tempo and a bit more of a punch to it.
Apart from that, what really sets “Adventure wa Kiniro ni” apart from “Ya・Me・Te!” are the instrumentals. This time we’re focusing a lot more on keyboard effects and drum beats. Different but easily identifiable as an Especia song. We’re very much in the same genre but it helps to show that there is a lot of room to work with going forward.
Overall we have two distinct but highly enjoyable songs on offer here. Obviously if you’re not into 80s pop music then this probably isn’t going to be your kind of thing. On the other hand, if you do like this single please consider buying it. It sold less than 2000 copies in its first week on sale and I personally think it’s easily worth the 1000yen or whatever it is they’re selling it for.