GRANRODEO “FAB LOVE” (Review)

GRANRODEO

GRANRODEO‘S FAB LOVE is one of the most polarizing albums the band has released yet it is one the perfectly captures the band’s versatility across a wide variety of genres and sub-genres of rock.

GRANRODEO fab love

Title: FAB LOVE
Label: Lantis
Release date: 15/05/2019 
Genre: Rock

Tracklist:

01. fabulous (Instrumental) 
02. FAB LOVE
03. move on! イバラミチ
04. Jump And Pump
05. BEASTFUL
06. ラクガキMOON 
07. BIG SUN 
08. JUNK-YARD DOG
09. Deadly Drive 
10. エンドレスサマー [with FIRE HORNS] 
11. Glorious days
12. the one
13. Take it easy

Track by track analysis:

01. fabulous (Instrumental)

Violins, cello and villas make the intro to this album to be as classy and elegant as you can imagine.


02. FAB LOVE

A funky bass line, playful, Rolling Stone’s inspired beat and melody takes over FAB LOVE.

The guitar riffs are upbeat and simple, giving off a classic rock & roll vibe that culminates in a 80s inspired hair rock featuring a straight to the point chorus with a groovy touch on it.

The pacing is infectious and the simplicity of the song structure and lyrics makes it easy for this song to get into your head. Fun track.


03. move on! イバラミチ

[As previously reviewed] Surprising everyone, move on! Ibara Michi kicks off with a woman counting down in mandarin in what is a snippet of this song’s Chinese influences. 

e-ZUKA‘s melodic guitar riffs blend with the mix of traditional Chinese 3 chorded instruments, sanshin and sanxian – that sound similar to the Japanese shamisen -, creating an addictive melody that is complete with thematic synths, a minimal bassline and mid-tempo bassy drums.

Instead of going all out with a powerful solo in the bridge, it’s a nice change of pace to have a simpler solo that doesn’t disregard e-ZUKA‘s genius guitar skills but also doesn’t go overboard with them. 

KISHOW‘s vocals are rather smooth this time around, which is normal taking into account the this song has a lot of melodic parts – the highlights go to the pre-choruses.

An all rounded performance with an eastern Asian touch. 


04. Jump And Pump

Jump and Pump is big on its punchy bass line and groovy drums. Guitars and synths play along, creating an entertaining and big track that winks at Dark Shame.

The mix between snary drums and the generated electro beat work well together for this song to pack a punch. And the guitar solo! What a treat. On the vocal end, KISHOW is as comfortable as ever, delivering every line with confidence and refined power.


05. BEASTFUL

[As previously reviewedBEASTFUL covers all bases with groovy double-bass drums, aggressive guitar riffs, with an alternative metal touch, and an exciting bass line. From its very start, BEASTFUL shows that it is a top tier song by GRANRODEO.

The intro immediately catches the listener’s attention with its dark melody and slow paced guitar licks introducing a eerie and airy dimension to this tune. However, the instrumental doesn’t say as ethereal and quiet as the first part of the intro hints at.

There are plenty of tempo changes, all essential to make this song all the more exciting and dynamic.

The intro has a mix of slow to a bustling fast paces whereas the verses are slow and melodic, perfect for KISHOW‘s vocals to take the spotlight.

Then we find the explosive chorus in which exciting guitar riffs and fast paced drums lead the way, perfect to make the listener headbang along to it. Lastly, e-ZUKA‘s full throttle guitar solo that raises the tension, taking the song to whole other level.

Vocally, KISHOW sounds as best as ever, breathing emotion to the track through his vibrato-ed mid-tones and powerful falsetto. BEASTFUL gets more interesting and exciting with each listen.


06. ラクガキMOON

Rakugaki MOON brings on the blues to the table for this song, much in the likes of ZZ Top. The guitar takes center stage, with poignant riffs as a slow paced, bass-drum beat sets the tempo.

This is a song unlike anything GRANRODEO have previously released. The chorus has classic rock influences, goes towards a more dramatic turn of events.

This is a refreshing take on music genres that deserve a lot of love for the quality and technique that is necessary to pull them off. KISHOW’s versatility on the vocal end enables with with power and emotion this kind of track demands.

High notes and lower ones were on point, as his mid tones vocals with a bit of rawness in the mix, dazzle in this song. This results in a slow, technical track that stays with you.


07. BIG SUN

Punk-pop comes forth for the summery Big Sun. Ska, punk and pop meet in a fun track that counts with organ melodies, minimalistic synth hits, simple guitar riffs, snary drums, catchy choruses and a whole feel good vibe.

The performances are fun and laidback, creating a soundscape that takes you back to 90s summer days.


08. JUNK-YARD DOG

A long guitar solo intro makes way for the blues meets classic rock tune, Junk-yard dog. Splashy drums and a groovy bass line add the final details to create a playful soundscape. However, it is the guitar that shines in this song.

The riffs in the verses and the fancy solo in the bridge had us going, jamming along to it. KISHOW goes for a powerful, vibrato imbued performance with a raw twist, making Junk-yard dog a thoroughly fun and memorable track.


09. Deadly Drive

[As previously reviewed] GRANRODEO bring their trumps to the table for Deadly Drive. Heavy guitar riffs welcome us to an instrumental that is far from being “heavy” per se. Double bass drums set the fast pace for an instrumental that sets itself apart from the band’s previous releases.

The intro is hard and so are some of the parts connecting the verses to the chorus sections, however the verses are focused on letting KISHOW’s vocals shine, hence the heavy bass filled section – between the bassy drums to the thunderous slap bass, that section doesn’t need much more to impress and to create a simple section that has depth at the same time that gated guitar riffs take the back seat.

Instead of going towards a raw vocal performance like in previous iterations, this time around the vocals have a variety of effects – from gating to delaying -, particularly noticeable in the backing vocals or in the verses.

Dead Drive is just perfect – not too heavy and not too pop driven, the right amount of coolness and rock blended into a great song.


10. エンドレスサマー [with FIRE HORNS]

Endless summer brings fun, bossa nova inspired vibes to this track, with brass and a danceable, snary beat taking front stage. The verses are big on their semi-acoustic sound, with acoustic guitars, a groovy bass line and subtle Latin percussion impressing on a first listen.

Add to this a tasteful acoustic guitar role, a sweet bridge and KISHOW’s smooth vibrato and you are in for a lot of fun.


11. Glorious days

[As previously reviewed] Glorious Days is one of GRANRODEO‘s best mid-tempo anthems. We’re used to full throttle bangers from the band or even those odd balls in which the synths rule almost everything. This time around this song was so clean but at the same time so raw that we couldn’t help but to be entranced.

The synths and high pitched guitar riffs give the song a dark aura whereas the drums and bass fill in the void for heavy instrumentalization. e-Zuka‘s stunning guitar work is the catalyst for what is a fantastic chorus and a flawless guitar solo/bridge.

The chorus. This chorus. Is everything. KISHOW‘s high notes enrich it and take a song that was already high on our ranking to greater heights. And that bridge.

This song has the perfect balance between GRANRODEO‘s trademark heavier sound and a more paced, raw one that the band has been experimenting in the past few releases. Perfect. 


12. the one

A fickle piano melody echoes in the background as this ballad takes off. This mid-tempo song has the makings of a ballad, however it strays a bit away by introducing edgy guitar riffs in the verses.

Drama is introduced in the chorus with urgent strings and a melancholic guitar solo take front stage. The one has a sweet undertone that is fully realized by KISHOW’s tender vocals and the children’s choir in the bridge. Tasteful take on a ballad giving it an inspiring twist.


13. Take it easy

Brass and funky guitar riffs are at the core of the slow paced, laidback Take it easy. This track eases up on all the action we have in this release, introducing a simple beat, minimalist guitar riffs and a smooth bass line.

The chorus features a choir that adds an interesting edge to this track. The bridge features a blues-y guitar solo that adds the final touches to this final song. The vocal work for this song is among the best we find in this album.

KISHOW taps into his range to deliver a variety of sweet falsetto, vibrato and high notes that add emotion to this track. A pearl to wrap this album with.


Final considerations


GRANRODEO‘S FAB LOVE is an album that, although far from perfect, holds well itself while exploring classic rock, jazz, blues, funk, groove metal and electronica.

This is one of the band’s most polarizing albums thanks to the wide variety of music genres explored. At the same time this is that odd album that shows how versatile the band is.

There is a wide variety of great tracks on this release. Songs like BEASTFUL, Deadly Drive and Glorious Days are instant hits in our books, even if these are already previously released singles.

Of the new additions we have to mention that JUNK-YARD DOG and Endless Summer are the two highlights in this album. For those fans of classic rock there are more than enough songs that explore sonorities reminiscent of Rolling Stones, ZZ Top and QUEEN but giving those the GRANRODEO treatment.

As a whole, FAB LOVE is a solid entry in GRANRODEO‘s repertoire, showcasing different sides to this talented band, exploring new and old sonorities, bringing fun and emotional lyrics to the table, wrapping everything up with powerful and skillful performances on the vocal end.


FAB LOVE is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.


REVIEW OVERVIEW
FAB LOVE
move on! Ibara Michi
Jump And Pump
BEASTFUL
Rakugaki MOON
BIG SUN
JUNK-YARD DOG
Deadly Drive
Endless summer [with FIRE HORNS]
Glorious days
the one
Take it easy
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder and music reviewer writing about Japanese music since 2010. A year later, I stumbled upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus". Since then I have been writing about male seiyuu music. You may find me writing almost essays whenever music is really good (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). I also host the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).

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