The romantic seiyuu unit Fero☆Men, consisting of Junichi Suwabe and Toriumi Kousuke, released a solid first album with “MAGIC MIRROR“.
[ATTENTION: Listen to this album with earphones or you’ll get a lot of the elements lost – Feromen relies a lot on giving each earphone different things and the members aren’t usually set at the center of the track.]
We reviewed the Limited edition so the track “淫靡なる生宴” won’t be reviewed.
Title: MAGIC MIRROR Label: Columbia Release date: 30/03/16 Genre: J-Pop / Visual-kei / Synth-pop
1 - Linaria (lyrics: Junichi Suwabe) 2 - いろは唄 3 - 抱きよせてTONIGHT 4 - 懺悔室 5 - 絶愛パラノイア 6 - MIDNIGHT☆BUTTERFLY -HOSHI☆GARI mix- 7 - 禁忌の薔薇 ～Aphrodisiac～ 8 - 失楽園 ～Lament for Eros～ 9 - Silent Carnival 10 - ベイビー アイラブユー 11 - Boys, be fictitious! (lyrics: Junichi Suwabe) 12 - Implantation (lyrics: Kousuke Toriumi) 13 - IMMORAL WEDDING 14 - ラブソング -eternal mix- 15 - Bonus Track 懺悔室＜淫靡なる生宴＞ [EXCLUSIVE REGULAR EDITION TRACK]
Track by track analysis:
1 – Linaria
With a theatrical intro worth of being in the credits of a classic Hollywood movie “Linaria” impresses right from the start with the dramatic and melancholic instrumental.
But soon things take a different turn. “Linaria” can be explained as a modern-day waltz (at least instrumental-wise), relying heavily on strings, emphasis on its pizzicato and the brass instruments as well as the timpani – set to add drama to the track.
When you think that this description is as boring as ready a shopping list, things change. Dubstep, heavy dubstep takes place in what is the strangest of bridges we’ve listened to in years. It’s only momentarily but it certainly sounds totally off before going back to its original sound for yet another chorus.
Vocally, this track is pretty interesting. Both Toriumi and Suwabe show improved vocals and actually sound incredibly solid throughout the whole song, even harmonizing at times.
Their high notes are stabler and the emotions with which both of them approach the lyrics are enough to make the song sound powerful.
If not for that weird bridge the track would be one of the most uncommon in their repertoire as well as one of their best.
2 – いろは唄 (Iroha no Uta)
What happens when you mix a shamisen, keytar, strings, funky bass, and synths? You get one of Feromen‘s best tracks released so far.
Revisiting past and new influences and mixing them into a perfect blend seems to be something close to impossible but “Iroha no Uta” is proof that it’s possible. Can we talk about the timeless keytar featured on this track? For those who are not fans of the 80s synth-pop songs or weren’t born at that time, it might come off as a weird instrument that no one plays. That’s not the question with Feromen.
They picked the keytar as the core instrument for this track but fear not. Those guitar riffs sounded amazing, right? Those weren’t made by a guitar. It’s all played on a keytar. That’s right.
But if the keytar‘s unexpected feature wasn’t enough, the group picked yet another unusual instrument on a synth-pop track – the shamisen.
We know that Feromen are known for making unexpected music but when someone tells you a song has a shamisen and keytar together the first thing that comes to your mind will probably be: what?
We could talk about this track’s instrumental all day and we’d still have more things to notice.
We don’t know why but Feromen made it possible to mix both instruments, not sound ridiculous and even pull off the whole track.
Vocally they sound totally in sync and in tune throughout the track, both of them having a lot of places to shine by themselves. One of Feromen‘s timeless tracks, one where balance is key.
3 – 抱きよせてTONIGHT (Dakiyosete TONIGHT)
[Previously reviewed] With Junichi Suwabe behind the lyrics we can only expect something highly provocative… and that’s exactly what we get with the title track Dakiyosete TONIGHT.
Strings, heavy guitar riffs, and a reverberating bass lead the way into this seductive track. The Spanish viola makes its entrance midway into the song leaving behind a trace of high-grade seductiveness and embellishing the overall track.
The simple instrumental revolves around the basics and in the end, Fero☆men makes things simple but always in the best way possible, this track is enough proof of that. The vocal track is also simple, no need to resort to highly technical singing tricks (vibrato, falsetto) so it’s not a highly demanding track to sing but still, the performance is solid, entertaining, and overall seductive.
4 – 懺悔室 (Zangeshitsu)
[Previously reviewed] An unlikely beginning for a song I must say. The song starts off almost like a drama CD. Junichi Suwabe introduces us to the track along with dummy-head mic usage by Toriumi taking turns with Suwabe.
Around 55 seconds on the track the song really starts off. Just to add more oddness to the song: it’s fully recorded using the dummy-head mic so it’s probably better to listen to this one with some headphones on or you’ll be missing being transported to the studio as soon as you close your eyes.
Kind of an interesting approach to this song and definitely a new one to boot.
This song was already featured on their single “Kinki no Bara〜Aphrodisiac〜” released in 2009 and is quite an interesting track, to say the least.
Simple yet catchy instrumental and with this kind of mic it’s even more interesting since you get to hear the raw, completely unadulterated vocals and the guys completely playing around with the mic throughout the song making this one a different version from the original.
5 – 絶愛パラノイア (Zetsuai paranoia)
Carefully crafted strings, synth pads, and a choir in the background lead the way in one of Feromen‘s top classic tracks. Released in 2011 in the MIDNIGHT☆BUTTERFLY single, “Zetsuai paranoia” goes towards a more dance-pop in comparison with some of the releases on this album.
Locked on your right earphone is Toriumi Kousuke and on the left one is Junichi Suwabe for the majority of the track so earphones are once again advised.
Both members live up to the tracks’ energy and deliver a solid performance where mid tones are a rule, still not forgetting to give room for Kousuke’s falsettos in some parts of the song.
Although not perfect and a bit monotonous after two chorus repetitions, “Zetsuai paranoia” is still a fun track to listen to and one of their top ones.
6 – MIDNIGHT☆BUTTERFLY -HOSHI☆GARI mix-
“MIDNIGHT☆BUTTERFLY” was all the rage in 2011 among Feromen‘s fans. The track takes on a disco road where everything is bright, adding a lot of pop elements to it.
What was originally an incredibly addictive pop/disco track received some touch-ups and we got this oldie sounding just as fresh as when it was released.
This track doesn’t need an introduction since it’s already one of their major tracks and certainly one of those tracks that begged you to head to the dancefloor and bust some dance moves.
7 – 禁忌の薔薇 ～Aphrodisiac～ (Kinki no Bara ~Aphrodisiac~)
With eerie pads, howling wolves, ringing church bells, and a whole lot of things going on in that 20-second intro, your expectations for this track might get high even if just for a little bit.
Kinki no Bara ～Aphrodisiac～ is a textbook synth-pop track, not forgetting the unit’s romantic roots but also adding some electronica elements.
With seductive strings, minimal synths, and a mesmerizing bassline as the main core of the track, the majority of this track is as solid as you could get. Why only the majority?
Well in the outro the song gets new elements and an unexpected solo. The instrumental was carefully crafted and the result is that when the vocal parts were added it even shinned more than expected. Strong vocal performances from both members led to another top track from this group.
8 – 失楽園 ～Lament for Eros～ (Shitsu rakuen～Lament for Eros～)
Kicking it off with a fragile piano and strings, “Shitsu rakuen～Lament for Eros～” is one of the tracks featured in the powerful single “Iroha no Uta“, released back in 2010.
This track has an instrumental track where the drama takes the spotlight. Resorting primarily to low notes from the piano plus violas and cellos in the background, the instrumental’s key is incredibly low and dramatic, giving an extra boost to the lyrics and vocal performance.
This track features Toriumi Kousuke as the center, being the one responsible for those high emotional notes in the tense chorus, driving this whole song into the full drama set.
Junichi Suwabe follows the trend of the instrumental track providing some steady low toned vocals to the song. Top track with the right amount of drama and tension.
9 – Silent Carnival
[Previously reviewed] Where do I start with this song? Simply put: it’s not the best song this duo has presented us to date.
What puts me off with this song is the repetitive chorus and although I’m quite fond of Spanish-like instrumentals (with the trumpets, castanets, and the accordion but not too exaggerated), this one just simply fails to impress and becomes an awkward mess.
It could be much better if the arrangement was a bit different.
10 – ベイビー アイラブユー (Baby I love you)
[Previously reviewed] Toriumi pens this track’s lyrics and we get yet a different vibe to the units’ sound.
“Baby I love you” shows a smoother sound with mild guitar work, heavy bass, and assertive drums, all of that blended with synths – seems like a pretty elaborated piece but it isn’t – it’s a simple pop-rock ballad with pretty interesting lyrics to go along to.
It’s a completely different instrumental and something the unit hasn’t tried in their last releases. It’s not heavy electronic pop or Latin pop like some of their previous work, it goes by a simple formula and it worked in the end, the problem is: it didn’t impress.
11 – Boys, be fictitious!
A track that certainly is the first one for this unit. “Boys, be ficticious!” is written by Junichi Suwabe and it shows yet another side to Feromen.
With a strong rock sound alongside some pop elements, the guitars take the front stage with melodic, heavy riffs joined by the energetic drums and clap tracks in the background. But what really impresses me is the memorable bass line that opens up this track and is the core of this instrumental’s sound.
Vocally it has been a long time since we’ve listened to a rock song performance from either of them. Suwabe due to his lower vocals fits the genre perfectly as he’s shown previously with some anime character songs.
On the other side, we find the delicate, more prone for high notes and mid-tones, Toriumi.
He managed to blend well with Suwabe giving the necessary depth to the vocal track. In the end both the instrumental as well as the vocal track are entertaining, only lacking a bit of consistency (instrumental-wise).
12 – Implantation
Toriumi has a history of writing romantic ballads, which is a status that he achieved a while back when he penned his first track, “Implatation” which is no different.
Kicking off with a background choir, acoustic guitars, and a piano, the track shows a gentleness and pensiveness that really suits the group like a glove.
The pop-rock instrumental resorting heavily to delicate piano melodies as well as the splashy drums and melodic guitar solos leaves a strong impression on anyone that listens to this track.
It hits just the right spots in terms of emotion, instrumental, arrangement, and vocal performance. Joining Suwabe’s strong performance, Toriumi lowers his tone to fit this track’s tone and the result is this mesmerizing track.
13 – IMMORAL WEDDING
[Previously reviewed] Major pop song right here. This song is so good that, as I’m writing this review, it’s still on repeat and will probably be for a few more hours.
The instrumental is incredibly good compared with some previous instrumentals the duo has opted to use in their singles.
This time around we have house-like synths mixed with strings, a choir, piano, and electronic drums all making a right fit with Toriumi and Suwabe’s perfect combination of low-toned vocals. Highly catchy chorus with both of them taking turns showcasing their flawless vocals.
A catchy pop song through and through, easily the best on the single. 5/5
14 – ラブソング -eternal mix- (Love song – eternal mix)
[Previously reviewed] We find yet another track penned by Junichi Suwabe, once again we expect something dubious – you know it -. “Love Song” is a textbook ballad going way deeper on the emotional side than the previous track.
The track is built beautifully with strings accompanying the jazzy drums, piano, smooth bass, and soft guitar riffs. It’s a tender, gentle track that will sway you off your feet with its instrumental only.
If we turn to the vocal track we find a befitting performance with both Suwabe and Toriumi delivering an array of emotions that we’ve never heard them do in any of Fero☆men’s previous work.
And we have a winner, “Love Song” is, by far, the most complete track in this release. 5/5
Feromen is strong with this album. It encompasses their career on a perfect note. Ranging from their disco tunes to the more risqué stuff they’ve done, Feromen is really unique. It’s difficult to find a seiyuu unit that does music as they do – all because they stray away from mainstream trends and limit themselves to music they like. The result: they are without a doubt, a unit unrivaled on what they do.
Unique style – who ever thought about a visual kei pop act with romantic lyrics? We’ve never seen this before making Feromen a step ahead of others.
They might not be as trendy as some other seiyuu units are, but they surely earned their contract with one of Japan’s (probably the world’s) most important labels – Columbia Records.
Some might say it was luck, others might say it’s because both seiyuu are already well known, but on our end, we think that this is all due to the uncommon concept behind the unit and ultimately because of their classic yet modern sound.
Through this 14-track album, we were able to see this unit grow and show us that much more is ahead of them.
Congrats Feromen on such a top-tier album.
MAGIC MIRROR is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.