M＆M THE BEST is Mamoru Miyano‘s newest release which provides the fans with the path to the past and the present, as the tracks bring us full-circle.
This review will be a long one so be prepared for it and without any further ado, let’s get this review started.
Title: M＆M THE BEST Label: King Records Release date: 09/06/2018 Genre: J-Pop/Dance
The tracklist for “Best Singles” (DISC 1)
01. Discovery 02. …君へ 03. J☆S 04. REFRAIN 05. ヒカリ、ヒカル 06. オルフェ 07. DREAM FIGHTER 08. ULTRA FLY 09. カノン 10. NEW ORDER 11. BREAK IT! 12. シャイン 13. HOW CLOSE YOU ARE 14. SHOUT! 15. テンペスト 16. The Birth
The “SONGS BEST” (DISC 2)
01. Kiss×Kiss 02. Not Alone 03. MOONLIGHT 04. Last Around 05. SUPER★SOUL 06. Beautiful Life 07. GOLDEN NIGHT 08. THANK YOU 09. FOREVER LULLABY 10. Identity 11. passage, 12. Gravity 13. EVER LOVE 14. POWER OF LOVE 15. そっと溶けてゆくように 16. EXCITING! [NEW SONG]
Track by track analysis:
“Best Singles” (DISC 1)
Discovery has an instrumental piece with some pads and piano playing in the background, but the guitar and the strings are also not to forget. Though the track kicks off sounding a little on the sad side it ends up becoming quite the upbeat track after we reach the chorus with the bass and the drums doing all the job. 4.5/5
With some strings and a beautiful falsetto delivered by Mamoru’s, …君へ certainly has a lot of potential. Despite the simple instrumental piece, this track manages to bloom into an upbeat track fully packed with emotion delivered by the vocal performance. 5/5
J☆S is definitely one of Mamoru’s tracks that anyone will recognize. The nostalgic instrumental piece delivered by the jazzy piano and the powerful bass, plus the drums make this track sound like the we’ve gone back in time to the early 2000s. 4.5/5
With an instrumental piece focused on the strings, piano and slow percussion, Refrain lays down the stage for Mamoru’s vocal to shine as he delivers us with amazing falsetto and vibrato. 5/5
Giving off some R&B vibes, Hikari Hikaru’s instrumental piece is synth pad driven with a medium tempo percussion and some soothing strings that merge together with Mamoru’s sweet vocals. 4.5/5
Orpheus was the turning point for Mamoru’s popularity, so it is no surprise that this track so well sung and with a perfectly curated instrumental piece is a part of the tracklist. The soft piano, the pads and the harp all brought together make up Orpheus intro. The powerful mix between the guitar, piano and bass make this track even now appealing to anyone’s ears, though we cannot forget that Mamoru’s vocal performance also has a role in it. 5/5
07. DREAM FIGHTER
With a rock instrumental piece, Mamoru definitely made a statement with Dream Fighter. He can sing any genre; his vocals are that versatile, so it is not an instrumental with powerful guitar and drums that would overwhelm him. Mamoru even has a go on some rap in the pre-chorus. 4.5/5
08. ULTRA FLY
Written by Miyano himself this song is a complete change from the last one since it’s a more rock-oriented song. Ranging guitars, strong vocals on a song that is full of energy. The guitar solo is amazing and the outro shines with Mamoru’s angel-like voice clearly showing that he is, without a doubt, a talent to be reckoned with. 4.5/5
The song was featured as the opening theme for the shoujo anime “Uta no prince-sama maji love 2000%” in which Miyano lent his voice to one of the characters. This one is one of the best pop/rock songs that is on Miyano’s repertoire. The piano guides us through the song, the bass, drums and guitars parts are incredibly well executed (we’re talking about the guys from ELEMENTS GARDEN so that is to be expected from their work) and the vocal work is top notch with highs and lows being hit by the flawless vocals. 5/5
10. NEW ORDER
Starting with Mamoru’s vocals and the electronica elements, both the synths and the drums make it clear that this music was made for the dancefloor. The heavy synths reverberate together with the bass giving that extra power to make the synths deliver one amazing instrumental piece. The buildup in the song quite resembles a lot with the one in the song “Unstoppable” from the album “Passage”.This time we have a bit of voice manipulation to go well with the heavy electronica-driven instrumental but when needed Mamoru delivers the most angelic of tones with his high notes. STY worked on the arrangement, lyrics and composition of this track and that is quite noticeable. As already mentioned the track Unstoppable pops into my mind when I listen to this track and why is that? The heavy presence of synths and bass elements is always brought by STY to Mamoru’s tracks. That electronic pop is his trademark easily spotted on Mamoru’s work so far, tracks like スーパーノヴァ or GOLDEN NIGHT -futuremix- are good examples of the use of those elements. Extremely addictive song; at the first listen it will certainly make an impact. 5/5
11. BREAK IT!
Break it starts with Mamoru and the guitars that easily give this track a more drum&bass feel to it. Needless to say that the person behind this instrumental is STY that has already worked with Mamoru in his previous work such as New Order and with his song Unstoppable and if we have this in account it will make sense why this song is so addictive. This track has more highlight to the drums and the guitars. The synths in the chorus and guitar just make this song even better. This track has a good build-up since the beginning until reaching the chorus where it “explodes” leaving place to once again the drums and the rest of the instrumental shine and also to Mamoru to use his vocals. Break it! is the opening theme of the currently airing anime Cardfight!! Vanguard G in which he also has a role. 4.5/5
シャイン is an electronic track with lots of synths and piano that easily mix well with the anime’s theme, and the reason behind it? Well it’s easy, because it was Elements Garden that created this song, so it is obvious that the synths and the amazing piano that has some more highlight here and there to be in this track. This time instead of betting on a more rock instrumental we have an electronic pop song that makes us addicted to it with the first time listening to it, and earlier I mentioned that SHINE wasn’t a pop/rock song but it definitely still has some guitars, they aren’t as powerful as in カノン, for example, but at the same time they fit in the instrumental perfectly so we don’t have any complaints. 5/5
13. HOW CLOSE YOU ARE
How Close You Are, the ending theme of Ajin:Demi-Human, has violins as the main focus in the intro with some pads as backup, but we are mistaken if we think that’s it for the instrumental, we quickly have an acoustic guitar making its first steps in this slow tempo track afterwards. The chorus really makes one remember the power ballads from the 80’s/90’s. Although the instrumental is simple it really is well arranged and it really suits Mamoru. The violins in the outro are also good and even though the instrumental is minimalist it still is a refreshing one. The best track in the single. 5/5
Kicking off this single we have SHOUT!, a track with an intro mainly focused on the synths and the synthetic drums that scream of NEW ORDER, an easy explanation is giving to us as soon as we see that STY was the one who produced the track. With the fast tempo synthetic drums, the bass and guitar plus the piano, we have the main instrumental piece laid for us. This track shows us a familiar yet comforting side of Mamoru‘s songs for the fans. SHOUT! has some space for Mamo to make the best out of his crystal clear high pitched notes, always on point. 4.5/5
Tempest” is a well-known song among the fans of shoujo anime series “Uta no Prince Sama Legend Star“. A simple piano melody paves the way for Miyano‘s vocals to shine, building up the tension, ultimately exploding in the exciting electro-pop chorus in which strings, bass, synths and piano blend in to deliver a powerful melody. It’s actually a nice change of pace to find Elements Garden delivering something other than those overhyped dance tracks that have turned into completely bland and expected flicks. This tracks’ outro is something so beautiful that we really recommend you to pay close attention to it. Vocally Miyano tackles this track with a whole lot of falsetto and high notes leaving us in awe. It might be a mellower dance pop track but it still has that excitement that only Miyano‘s songs have, and his golden touch is there for everyone to hear – just pay attention to the stunning lyrics. 5/5
16. The Birth
Starting it off quietly with soothing strings in the background against a piano melody, “The Birth” soon evolves into an alternative pop-rock tune. Addictive guitar riffs guide us through the song to the unusual pre-chorus in which synths and metalic drums take the front seat (but only for a couple of seconds). On the other side, the chorus is all we could ever ask from Miyano, it’s powerful but without being noisy, and blends rock elements with the emotional strings playing in the background. Regarding the vocal performance we can only point out good things. Miyano‘s high notes and falsetto never fail to impress us. “The Birth” made us excited for what’s next, that is for sure. 5/5
The “SONGS BEST” (DISC 2)
KissxKiss has been played in several of Mamoru’s concerts and it still has its energy it had when it was released back in 2009. The piano and strings are the main focus of the instrumental piece, though we get some subtle disco vibes in the chorus, the track is overall more on the jazzy and pop genre than anything. 5/5
2. Not Alone
With a piano and some synth string pads playing in the background, Not Alone adds some summer vibes with its upbeat instrumental piece. Mamoru’s ad-libs here and there are certainly something that adds more jazz to this already summer like track. 4/5
Moonlight gives off the R&B vibes that suit Mamoru’s vocal performance so much, with some strings and percussion plus the piano, this track manages to enable Mamo’s sexiness and natural talent to sing songs jazzier and R&B oriented. 4.5/5
4. Last Around
Last Around certainly has that R&B vibe to it and though the background instrumental piece has a synth pad on a higher pitch that we’d like Mamoru’s vibrato and high notes with the acoustic guitar make us forget that mishap. The jazzy instrumental piece really complements Mamo’s vocal performance. 5/5
With a rock oriented instrumental piece SUPER★SOUL gives off a completely different aura from the usual Mamoru but we do not dislike it, since both Mamoru’s performance and the instrumental are on pair. The guitar and the drums plus the bass do their job of making the track sound rocky at times and at other jazzier. Overall, SUPER★SOUL is a funny track to listen to. 4.5/5
6. Beautiful Life
A throwback to Mamoru’s 2012 album FANTASISTA, Beautiful Life is a full-on display of how much the fans still enjoy this track. With a simple instrumental piece consisting of an acoustic guitar, with the attention fully directed to Mamo’s vocal performance featuring those slightly low notes that by now the artist is so known for using. Though it does not have any of the elements for which Mamoru is so known in his tracks, Beautiful Life hits back home for those who enjoyed this type of tracks with a relaxed instrumental piece. 5/5
7. GOLDEN NIGHT
And we’re back to a dance song right here. Interesting guitar riffs and robotized vocals dominate the song. The chorus is pretty catchy and builds up to an amazing drop provided by the drums. Rock and electronica at its best. Besides the robotized vocals when Miyano’s voice is at its natural he simply plays with the higher notes like is no problem at all. Good song overall. 4/5
8. THANK YOU
Another song that is no stranger to the fans. “THANK YOU” was featured on the 2012 single “カノン”. This song is being used as the ending theme for Miyano’s radio show for almost a year but nevertheless it’s still a pretty fresh song. The reprise arrangement of the song is clearly more R&B than the original. A slow song more focused on the vocal work. Miyano is on top of his game on this song. Slow, humble and beautiful, a good addition to the album. Compared to the single version this one stands out more and sounds better than the later. 4.5/5
9. FOREVER LULLABY
Forever Lullaby is a ballad from the single カノン released in 2013. This track is a prime example of Mamoru’s expertise in vibrato and falsetto. Once again, resorting to a single instrumental piece with a prominent bass and some strings playing in the background, the main focus is on the vocal performance, we have a perfectly executed track which brings fourth the best in Mamo’s “sound”. 4.5/5
The shimasen opens one of the best songs on the album. Eastern and Western cultures meet to make this one a flawless song. Haunting lyrics, perfect vocal work and the instrumental is one of the most catchy/addictive I’ve heard in a long time. This right here is a dancefloor hit, a mix between pop and R&B, traditional and modern, reminding us a bit of Miyano’s first album “Break”. The addition of the shimasen gave the song that “oriental” touch that, in my opinion, is one of the best things that was brought to this song. This song was written when the album was already finished and added in the last moment since Miyano was trying to make this song incredibly remarkable and if he failed he wouldn’t include it on the album. Lucky enough this song turn out to be one of his best songs so far. The lyrics were written by Mamo-chan himself. The strongest song on the album, a clear trump card to showcase the album’s strengths. 5/5
The title track “passage,” was also written by Miyano Mamoru. This song goes back to the first album’s R&B. A feelgood song given by the smooth vocals and the acoustic guitar. A sweet song with beautiful lyrics. Mamoru hits the higher notes beautifully. Impressive job on this one. 5/5
In what is Miyano‘s first collaboration with renowed producer Cha Cha Malone(AOMG), “Gravity” is a mid-tempo synth pop song with an addictive looping guitar melody playing in the background. With sweeping as well as soothing synth pads, this track is far from being a full out dance track, instead it mixes the best of both worlds: synths and guitars. It doesn’t sound crowded, we’d risk to say that it actually sounds soothing despite not being a ballad at all. Vocally, we’re in for a smooth ride, Miyano‘s tone will put you at ease to enjoy this song. Although Miyano has already tried out this genre before, this specific performance surpassed his previous attempts in terms of quality. 5/5
13. EVER LOVE
A playful piano accompanies Mamoru‘s vocal performance without outshining it, while the drums and dragging synths prove us that EVER LOVE has a lot more than just a little EDM influence. The chorus explodes into a upbeat and cheerful track delivered by the violins, synths and the same percussion work from the intro. Mamoru’s mellow vocals make this track somewhat soothing. Although not always perceptible the bass plays a major role in this track’s instrumental piece bringing the synths and violins together into a perfect harmonious track. As Jin Nakamura‘s trademark the synth drums and the synths are present and to add to the great instrumental piece we have great lyrics written by Mamoru himself. 4.5/5
14. POWER OF LOVE
Power of Love is a jazzy track through and through, a genre that with this album has become yet another one which Mamoru call easily pull off without sound out of place and still managing to shine. A little unusual from what we usual listen from STY, this instrumental is slow tempo and focused on the piano and bass while Mamo delivers a high-quality vocal performance matching the track. Power of Love is another self-written track of the singer. 5/5
Right off the bat, Sotto tokete yuku yo ni gives off a simplistic vibe delivered by the soothing synth pads and light synth percussion work, which alongside Mamoru’s top-notch vocal performance. This track focuses on its simplicity, as we can definitely point out some notice hints of minimalistic EDM and dubstep influences in the instrumental piece, especially in the pre-chorus and chorus.
Despite the track being so simplistic, one fact remains undeniable, Mamoru’s vocal performance became the main focus of Sotto tokete yuku yo ni, melting us with his flawless falsetto and sweet vibrato though if there is one thing we must point out how the chorus sounds slightly lackluster. 4.5/5
With a different genre than before, Mamoru makes makes his way to the train of mainstream with his tropical instrumental piece delivered has tropical house influences delivered by the incorporation of marimba into the percussion and Latin song vibes though Mamoru’s trademark instrumental with the synth and pads is still intact, the distinct “sound” that we can usually notice from other of the artist’s tracks is not really there. EXCITING! seemed to have been composed with the purpose of it being catered to the international fans, hence the differences in the “sound”. One thing that has not changed, however is Mamoru’s powerful vocals, with that you can count. 4/5
Mamoru’s “sound” has certainly changed throughout the years, as his image did and we see no problems there. In fact, it is quite the opposite. This best of album was the perfect example of just how much Mamoru has grown as an artist from his debut when sometimes we could notice that there was not much improvement in his singing skills or even instrumental wise. One thing that surely has changed is his instrumental pieces. When Mamoru debuted in 2007, he sounded just like your typical R&B artist with all the characteristic elements of the genre, slow percussion, piano and bass giving a jazzy vibe to the track, and to complement it we had Mamoru’s vocal performance that, though still not on the same level and quality he has now achieved, still sounded pretty well. And for quite some time, Mamoru remained attached to that genre giving life to tracks such as Last Around, Moonlight, Hikari Hikaru, …君へ, Discovery.
It is interesting to notice that throughout the years, Mamoru has sung some tracks that despite being so many years apart from each other, still remain faithful to that whole “track perfect to be sung in a concert” kind of vibe, such as J☆S, Kiss×Kiss which has more of an amusing tone to it.
In 2012, Mamoru’s track Ultra Fly came out and with it we could notice that the artist had begun making some changes to his “sound”. The once R&B genre Mamoru was keen on singing was replaced by a different genre of pop relying strongly on synths and fast percussion typically used in drum&bass, with the occasional guitar riffs here and there. That’s what we can notice in Ultra Fly and Golden Night. Though in subsequent releases the artist did not give up on this formula we can certainly say that Mamoru did in fact the opposite. His “sound” simply differed from one release to another because the instrument given the most highlight was different. Take New Order as an example of how Mamoru managed to pull off this EDM heavily synth driven with drum&bass influences, all the while sounding as sexy and killing it with those falsetto notes in the pre-chorus. Shout! and Break it! on the other hand have more focus on the drum&bass percussion and the guitar with some underlying synths but the end result is not just like any other track. Both tracks are a hit in delivering a lot of energy, which makes them perfect for a live concert, but also because the instrumental piece is not overpowering nor overcrowded. Tracks such asシャイン, for example, are more synth driven with piano and strings.
It is interesting to also point out that though Mamoru has not been singing that many tracks more on the pop rock genre, there are still quite some amazing ones such as Orpheus and The Birth, which make us reminisce about his first releases.
Released in 2016, the ending theme for the anime Ajin, How close you are is a track that definitely has made many get emotional when listening to this simple instrumental piece with an acoustic guitar and some pads adding to the emotions, but what really adds more impact is the way Mamoru is singing the tracks. It is tracks such as this one that makes one remember just how much Mamoru’s vocal performance is powerful.
The last few releases, Mamoru has returned to his jazzier roots, and we must say that with his perfected vocal performance and amazing instrumental pieces, such as in Ever Love and Power of Love, Mamoru really shone bright.
The only new track in this album is EXCITING!. Despite the fact that it still retains some of the trademark “sound” Mamoru has been releasing lately, this tracks is definitely catered to the international fan that enjoys listening to tropical house inspired songs.
If there was something we found peculiar, however, was the fact that the order of the tracks lacked some organization. We understand that, most likely, the order was chosen by popularity of the tracks, but it seems unthinkable to カノン，How Close you Are and Shout! all together. We basically have a sandwich of two tracks that are upbeat and perfect for being sung in a concert and then we have a track with sad “sound” to it in between. The perfect order would be ballads on one disc and upbeat tracks on another.
M＆M THE BEST is a full circle of Mamoru’s career. While showcasing his most popular tracks we got a glimpse at his evolution as an artist, be it vocal or instrumental wise.
M & M The Best is also available on Spotify.
M＆M THE BEST is available for purchase on CDJAPAN.