“Reason!!” slightly deviates from the 2.5D idol norm delivering exciting and entertaining performances filled with strong vocals and raw, live instruments in what is a thoroughly interesting release.
Title: Reason!! Label: Lantis Release date: 15/11/2017 Genre: J-Pop
01.Reason!! (performed by 315 STARS - DRAMATIC STARS, Beit, S.E.M, High✕Joker, W and Jupiter） 02.流星PARADE (performed by DRAMATIC STARS, S.E.M and Jupiter) 03.夏時間グラフィティ (performed by Beit, High✕Joker and W)
Track by track analysis:
1 – Reason!!
The song that has helped IDOLMASTER SideM take their number 1 on Oricon daily is here. “Reason!!”, song featured as the opening theme for the franchise’s anime, currently airing in Japan, is an entertaining tune that gathers every idol group under 315 Production that is a focus on the currently airing anime series (DRAMATIC STARS, Jupiter, Beit, S.E.M, W and HighxJoker).
The instrumental is extremely upbeat, thankfully, it strays away just enough from those incredibly bright instrumentals that tend to sound as generic as they sound bad. This instrumental lends help from rock elements to take their pop sound to a different level. Fast guitar riffs, bassy drums, piano parts, a noticeable bassline and minimal synths – barely noticeable unless you’re really looking for them in the background – complete the rest of the lineup for this instrumental. In the way the instrumental was crafted, the listener gets an exciting and fast paced song that is bright without being obnoxious. Also, we need to point the nice touches during the bridge with the guitar and rhodes piano solos. The vocal department has too many people for us to be talking about everyone individually, so we’ll talk about them as a whole. No one stands out – which is not a bad thing to begin with -, all groups seem to fit incredibly well together. The harmonies sound easy to the ears, the group parts are pretty much even between all groups. We can’t, with confidence, say who sounded best or if there’s any flaws in the vocal department. As a whole this was a great way to open this single with. 4.5/5
2 – 流星パレード
DRAMATIC STARS, S.E.M & Jupiter perform this song. The instrumental is a mix of all of these group’s colors. Once again, we’ve love the choice of live instruments over synths and the like. Expect a whole band sound for this song: snary drums, melodic guitars, simple bassline and delicate piano bits and melodies as finishing touches. The song itself feels right, with good pacing and a friendly, easy listening instrumental. We’ve got an interesting lineup in the vocal department. DRAMATIC STARS (perhaps the strongest unit out of all Idolmaster SideM’s units), S.E.M and Jupiter all have their strengths and weaknesses, and some might not have a sound that appeals to everyone but through this song, we cannot find any weaknesses nor anything that might put off any potential listener. It’s a complete vocal performance in which every single group is covering for each other and enhancing each other’s strengths. 流星パレード ends up being a colorful and entertaining song that is on a quest to put a smile on your face. 4.5/5
3 – 夏時間グラフィティ
And to wrap up this special single we have Beit, High×Joker & W performing 夏時間グラフィティ, a pop song with a 70’s disco touch. Wah-wah guitar riffs, rhodes piano melodies, a funky bassline, synthetic drums, brass and strings bring to life the most entertaining song on this release. At first it sounded like we were in for a danceable Latin pop song, but it was just the intro that was slightly misleading (those bongos mixed with brass), however this is clearly a disco pop tune. Much alike the previous songs, this one is here to put a smile on your face and while at it, take you to the dancefloor for the funkiest 4 minutes of your life. Nagatsuka, Kikuchi, Horie and Umehara stood out on this song and note for the best reasons. Nagatsuka, Kikuchi and Horie struggled a bit with their vocals, sounding a couple of times close to being off key (on those high scaled sections) and what Umehara displayed here is far from what he’s been showing lately (i.e. on SolidS). For this performance his tone sounds too forced and it seemed like he had difficulties reaching some high notes – even when this song isn’t that high note driven. Other than that, the vocal performances were entertaining and matched perfectly with the instrumental’s energy. We close this release on a fantastic note. 4.5/5
Idolmaster SideM come with a bang with “Reason!!”.
This release managed to showcase a little bit of every group’s strengths as well as how well all of them fit in the SideM universe. A good example of this is the title track, “Reason!!”. This song was performed by 315 STARS a.k.a DRAMATIC STARS, Jupiter, Beit, S.E.M, W and HighxJoker, 6 groups that are rather unique, starting from different music genres to approaches and performances that together work as if they were always one big group rather than several separate ones. This cohesion and chemistry is hard to come by. The title track proved to be more than we were expecting, especially when there was a clear deviation from the “generic 2.5D idol pop” sound. It still sounds like something you’d expect from a sort of “all-star” performance with all groups from one idol franchise, but the instrumental was executed in a slightly different way. Opting for live instruments as opposed to hyped synths and overwhelming instrumentalization was key to make this song stand out.
流星パレード also brought to the table live instrumentalization and exciting melodies. DRAMATIC STARS, S.E.M & Jupiter usually sound completely different between themselves, it was rather interesting to find out how they would sound as one. Vocally, this was the most complete performances on this release.
On another note: 夏時間グラフィティis the most exciting and engaging song on this release. It’s danceable and funky without resorting to tacky instrumentalization or annoying synths just for the sake of sounding “trendy”. In our opinion, this is a perfect “feel good” song to add to your playlist. However there were some minor hiccups in the vocal department. For instance, it baffles us that Yuichiro Umehara has such a weak performance during this song. Why is that? Given how much he’s been improving over this past year, it’s not normal that his performance in 夏時間グラフィティ sounds forced, close to being off key and awkward. This is far from being the Umehara we’ve been listening to throughout this year. It was as if we were listening to him singing in 2017 with his lack of singing skills from 2015. Nagatsuka, Kikuchi and Horie sure have talent and show that they have a spark in them for singing but they need to work out on their tone and control. There were some instances in which they were sounding really close to off key and others in which they sounded awkward. A little polish on those issues will lead more controled and complete performances.
All in all, “Reason!!” is a thoroughly interesting release that showcases just how much talent there is within this franchise. A must listen/buy for every fan of the Idolmaster SideM franchise and a must listen for anyone that enjoys listening to rich vocal performances and entertaining music that deviates from the idol norm.
“Reason!!” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.