Fresh out of PAIИ

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Jun 13 2010, 23h06

I had been planning to do a short entry on a couple recent points of interest, KAT-TUN's N.M.P. (NO MORE PAIN) PV among them. I kept composing in my head, two am, as I was trying to fall asleep last night: bits about KAT-TUN, bits about my growing girl-group weakness, bits about how I am possibly the latest C.N.Blue fangirl ever (but at least I'm not YEARS late! My bad, V6.) This after switching from mindless games to TV Tropes at maybe 8 pm. It is definitely too summer.

Anyway, I sat down to try to type up my insomniac brainwaves today, did a cursory LJ check, and discovered that the full NO MORE PAIИ album had actually leaked! So let's go with that instead, get all the KAT-TUN out now, and maybe I'll stick the rest in later, we'll see.

I'm actually a little curious how NMP would have struck me sans PV; the T∀BOO comparisons go almost without saying, and I love T∀BOO: the mounting vocal intensity, the sense of cinematic epic in the orchestration. It is, moreover, a perfect opener for Queen of Pirates: while I can't begin to guess how or why KAT-TUN picks its motifs, and indeed there's not too much in the other tracks to suggest piracy, I can't listen to T∀BOO without hearing PotC.

I'm also not sure where KAT-TUN are going with NO MORE PAIИ, but all I'm really getting from the PV is "second-rate CGI 'epic.'" I'm sure the clone army is meant to be dramatic, but I can't help myself thinking--did you get the armor secondhand from Kamen Rider, guys? And while I realize you've been photoshopped into your helmets, they didn't even try to hide the airbrushing. I can't pinpoint quite what about the out-of-focus contrast bothers me so, but those heavy shadows aren't doing any of you favors.

Also, it really baffles me why Kame's pancake makeup only extends to one eye.

Vocally, I can't decide quite where I stand on NMP, and probably, it varies from member to member. Kame's doing better--mostly--than in Going!, but I can't help thinking some of his lines are too low for him: he gets the husky-to-the-point-of-tunelessness effect, and I know he can sound smoother in a higher range. (I may have offended Kame fans complaining about his recent sound: guys, I love Kame's voice sometimes! His line in the bridge of GOLD--chieisen ga kieru basho de kimi no hitomi, right before Jin's--made me sit up and take notice in a way that Jin's stronger voice couldn't, back before I could even name the members; I think he can really shine in mid-tempo songs like SMILE, HEART BEAT, and OUR STORY ~プロローグ~ where that sweet lightness can come through without seeming forced; vocally, someday for somebody is far and away my favorite of his solos. And he does fairly well in more rockish songs where vocal smoothness isn't necessarily needed. But baby, I'm sorry, ballads (anything sung like ballads) are not your strongest point. He just hasn't seemed to have the vocal strength for his solo lines in recent performances, sounding shaky and off-key, and I think of all of KAT-TUN, he benefits most from auto-tune. So with that said, I actually like his five seconds of auto-tune here, and I think it helps.)

Guess it's good to get the flamebait out of the way early.

I'm not too impressed with Maru either, though it's possible that Answer set my hopes impossibly high: he just sounds a little rough and pretty breathy here. But Junno's sounding interesting and even improved; he doesn't get the low notes often, but I found myself wishing he did: his voice loses a lot of the grating stridency in lower registers.

I'm rarely a huge fan of Koki's rapping, but I quite like it here, layering over the rising music to dramatic effect--and the way he punches the wall is frankly badass. But I think the show-stealer here is pretty clearly Ueda. Ignoring my feelings on him writhing with his hands in his hair (Would "don't you ever stop" be appropriate here, bb?) that clear, gorgeous hold-out note is incredible. Akanishi who?

Though I have to say, his recent trend towards eye adornments is undeniably funny.

I still don't know why we're dancing in some sort of sci-fi Mayan apocalypse, but I must admit the long stormy shots are a great accompaniment to the chorus--and I love KAT-TUN singing rock songs in chorus: it's the sound that got me into them, and I'm always glad to hear it back. I'm also not sure how Kame's teeth-clenching grimace conveys "no more pain"--those flaming words look pretty damn excruciating to me, and while we're on it, can I possibly be the only one freaked the hell out by the text crawling up their skin? Like insects or something, ugh. (Though the face Kame makes directly after, that almost bemused look of relief, is weirdly compelling if not actually hot.) And the disintegrating army--well, okay. But though it's the kind of PV that suggests someone takes this boyband far too seriously, I can't ultimately rule them to be trying too hard: even as I'd like to mock the dubious graphics and the unrelated "plot," there's something undeniably stirring in the music. And NMP will, like T∀BOO, be in rotation on my iPod for a long time.

Who knows, the PV may even be growing on me.

That got so unintentionally long I don't think I can transition smoothly. Moving on! I won't get into the A-sides; you can get my thoughts on Love yourself and D-MOTION here, and my disappointment in Going! here. Going! will, I think, still not be making my library. FARAWAY, then.

FARAWAY is a pretty dramatic contrast after NMP's theatrics, but I like the instrumental immediately: something about the discrete, chime-like notes reminds me of running water. KAT-TUN in unison sound a little murky to me in comparison, but I like the layering nonetheless--and I have to rewind the breakdown into solo lines again, it really blows me away. Is that really you, Junno? I knew I wanted more low notes! Jin might have sounded good here--really, I'm all for anything which inspires him to sound like Helpless Night (feat. Akanishi Jin) again--but the boys are absolutely holding their own, and between their vocals, and the beat, and the background music, the song has grown on me before it's even over.

(I'm expecting fan dissent about this one: "It sounds like Arashi!" Whatever, guys--I've seen Arashi invoked for everything from Going! to NMP, and if you're saying Arashi sounds like variety, I am very happy to let KAT-TUN take that note, as long as they keep making songs like this.)

RIGHT NOW comes in with the vocal distortion like it's trying to prove my point. A confession: while I am certainly impressed by the range of things Nakamaru can do with his mouth (what she said, what can I say) I rarely feel they add to a song. And RIGHT NOW emphasizes this exceptionally well: the synthesized club beats start up and the song changes completely. Which is fine by me, because I love the new version exponentially more.

All I can really say for RIGHT NOW is that is sounds like K-pop; had B2ST come out with this track, I'd not have been surprised in the least. But I really love this club sound applied to KAT-TUN, K-poppy or not, auto-tuned or not, and someone's rocking the high notes at the end.

If I were to compare ROCKIN' ALL NITE to someone, now, I'd have say 関ジャニ∞. Unfortunately, this also means I'm not so crazy about it. It's not that I'm inherently opposed to upbeat KAT-TUN; this just sounds messy to me, like Shounen Club filler. I can only assume it's here as the token crowd-pumping concert song; I can see it being good for this, but as a studio track it's doing so little for me I can't remember the melody line when it's over.

Kame's SWEET is a pretty, jazzy number: nothing too remarkable, but he sounds SO MUCH better that I'm simply awash in relief. It's no earworm, but Kame's voice is pleasantly warm and strong without sounding unlike himself and he hits all his high notes without really sounding strained. Well done, bb! I did know you had it in you.

If Kame has been improving, Junno is incredible. LOVE MUSIC is lovely, my favorite Junno solo ever: bright, summery music, pretty decent rap, and I really don't even know where to start with his voice. He sounds so warm and happy, he's lost so much of his former nasalness, and HIS high notes! *_*

I have to admit, I'm nervous about MAKE U WET ~CHAPTER 2~; didn't care for the original, and Koki's brand of shirt-ripping, motorcycle sexy just tends to hit my embarrassment squick. And, well, this is better, but neither Koki's vocals here nor that dissonant background track are doing much for me. Once I can disassociate it from American pop I don't like, though, the chorus isn't musically too bad--just a bit explicit. "Touch your secret part?" I dunno, Koki, I'm not sure you're Jin enough to work this one.

Has potential as a patented super-suggestive KAT-TUN dance track, though.

Anyway.

Have I mentioned how much I love Ueda's voice lately? Because I do. RABBIT OR WOLF? is a little Latin, not totally my style, and I find myself wishing the instrumental was a little quieter, but mostly just because I'd like to hear more of Uebo. He's really so versatile: I'm not sure I would have guessed he'd pick something so fast, after the anguished rock of LOST and the candy-sweetness of 花の舞う街 but I'd say it works, Tacchan. I should just stop questioning.

Nakamaru also belies my NMP complaints: his FILM vocals don't blow me away quite as Answer did, but he's certainly no weak link in KAT-TUN. I can't help liking FILM; it's no pop revolution, but it's pleasant and well-suited to him, up-beat enough not to bore me.

The opening of PROMISE SONG concerns me: Kame's back with the low, husky vocals that have never sold me on a ballad, and for a moment I'm afraid this will be the next White X'mas. But it doesn't turn out that bad: our other soloists are doing better, Kame himself sounds better later, and the chorus is fine, if a bit saccharine. Sounds like a hand-holding concert closer. Do you guys do that, KAT-TUN? Would your new-found happiness sans Jin inspire you?

That would make HELLO the rocking encore comeback! This sounds like early KAT-TUN to me, like the thumping, chanting classics they stuck in cartoon KAT-TUN II You--and it's impossible not to hear SIX SENSES later on. I like the atmosphere, I like the higher-register bit in unison, and it's actually hard not to get up and dance through this. So though I'm surprised when it's over, it's certainly a good note to end the album on.

I'm actually surprised now by the title's suitability. I had thought "NO MORE PAIN" melodramatic, with its edgy special character--somehow, the "PAIN" always seemed louder than the "NO MORE." But this really is a new stage for KAT-TUN, far from the polarized angst-and-sugar of the last album, and I find myself impressed and pleased at the range of it. I'm not sure it will satisfy fans of NMP's dark drama: the rest of the album really has so little stylistically in common with the title track that as a promo, it could be called misleading. But I like almost every track for its own merits; I like this album as a whole far more than cartoon KAT-TUN; and though I can think "Yeah, he'd do this well" I find that I'm not missing Jin all that much at all.
Envios aceitos
Asian Pop Addict

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