Rejet‘s second summer release is headed by househould unit Marginal#4.「UFO」 is the unit’s 7th single and it shows us a fragilised unit in search for their sound.
Single: UFO Label: Rejet Release date: 15/07/15 Genre: J-Pop
01.UFO 02.ハニー❤ポット (Toshiki Masuda & Naozumi Takahashi) 03.真夏のジャスティス (KENN & Yuto Suzuki) 04.星祭り～ララララのまーじなる音頭～ 05.UFO -off vocal- 06.ハニー❤ポット -off vocal- 07.真夏のジャスティス -off vocal- 08.星祭り～ララララのまーじなる音頭～ -off vocal-
Track by track analysis:
With a retro touch provided by the synths, UFO shows Marginal#4 with a completely different light than we’re used to it. Overly bright and with an instrumental with uncanny resemblances with ELEMENT GARDEN‘s trademark sound, UFO sounds like a shot that completely fired back. With only synths, a heavy bass (the leading instrument in this track) and some synthetic drums, this instrumental piece lacks so much that, for a few seconds, we get a weird idea in our mind “Have MIKOTO and Daisuke Iwasaki gone crazy?“. Not only the lyrics are not that interesting but the instrumental is plain, sometimes irritating and overly repetitive with that retro synth in the background even ruining the only good part of the track – that pre-chorus resorting to a jazzy 10 second, or less, contrabass showcase -. Regarding the vocals: with a track that doesn’t challenge anyone’s singing it’s safe to say that everyone sounded great, but nothing out of the ordinary or jaw dropping for us. 3/5
The first paring track is sang by Toshiki Masuda and Naozumi Takahashi, and once again this pair seems to get stuck with a track that is far from being the best one to showcase both members’ qualities. Bringing back the guitars, at least the acoustic ones, “Honey Pot“, shows a sweeter – and Rejet is being way literal with this one – side to this duo, resorting to a bright instrumental with brass elements leading the way in this track. And while the track might not sound like nothing impressive, instead it sounds like something straight from “Shounen Hollywood“, even so the duo fared well in their performance but it’s barely impossible to make up for that awful instrumental. 3.5/5
Known as the poweful on sync duo in Marginal#4‘s releases, KENN and Yuto Suzuki are once again pairing up for a track. With a track that might have come straight from T.M.Revolution‘s prime time in the late 90’s, early oo’s, 真夏のジャスティス resorts to heavy synths, pads and heavy guitars and fast paced drums, pure electronic pop-rock right from the bat. And while the instrumental track might get addictive the vocal track blows us away. Power and high energy paint KENN and Yuto‘s vocal performance. If you though you love this duo from the danceable 燃えよ!LOVE★MUSCLE and 恋せよ乙女! or even from their powerful emotional performance in キミとFARAWAY, you’ll be blown away by the power that this track packs. Without a doubt not only the best duo track but also the best track in this release. 5/5
Going straight into a summer festival in Japan, here come Marginal#4 with a rather traditional track. The rock elements are back together with the shamisen, shakuhachi and taiko drums, a mix between the east and the west, this is something that has been a trend in Japanese pop in these past two years, Marginal#4 managed to pull off the mix between cultures in this track with a fun and energetic performance. The playfulness that you get from the instrumental piece grabs your attention right from the beginning, 星祭り～ララララのまーじなる音頭 picks one of Marginal#4‘s trademarks “fan service”, you’ll get what I mean when you listen to this track. If that aspect will make you cringe or else, it’s something you only know. At our end we think that although it’s one of the unit’s greeting cards since their debut in 2013, this kind of trick is getting old and over used. 4/5
What has happend to this unit? Where’s the boldness, the sexiness, that exciting feeling you get when listening to their singles? With this overly bright and sweet them, it’s impossible to see in this Marginal#4, any remnant of the fantastic unit from one year ago. The jynx is still on, as the unit hasn’t managed to deliver a single release that was worth out attention in these past 12 months. Although some of the unit’s members seem to have improved in some areas the only thing dropping quality is their sound. The idea that anyone that has been following Rejet‘s units has, is that each one of them is unique, at least that’s what was intended to be. But it seems that now all units sound the same – except for Lagrange Point that although they have put guitars in the background, they still sound unique in comparison with Marginal#4 and Unicorn Jr..
Barely holding up to the “4 star rating” that we gave them, Marginal#4 seem to be struggling into finding their own sound and sticking to it. The creative duo behind the unit (MIKOTO and Daisuke Iwasaki), seem to be having some issues with this unit’s sound and lyrics, with overly ridiculous lyrics and overly crowded instrumental pieces, it almost like they want the unit to do everything at the same time. It’s not good for the listeners and equality not good for the performers. We get a finished product that sounds like nothing is going in the same direction and, although the vocal performances are keeping their usual quality, the instrumentals drag the unit down and down, in this downward spiral.
If the unit is every going to pick themselves up it’s something that is up to the creative duo behind them to decide, the next release will prove to be crucial for M#4 as both Lagrange Point and Unicorn Jr. seem to have raised the bar for Rejet units’ releases. It’s sad to see the pioneer seiyuu unit branching from Rejet getting this kind of treatment as the other units get special treatment with amazing, complete and exciting releases, whereas Marginal#4 seem to have lost the spark they had in them with this plain instrumentals.
Talking a bit more specifically about this release:
The title track UFO is quite possibly the worst title track the unit has used to promote their releases. Plain, boring, overly repetitive and with a bland vocal performance, the unit almost seemed like having swapped their members for amateur singers. The other unit track 星祭り～ララララのまーじなる音頭 seemed to have picked up a little bit of pace and showed us an almost redeeming track, if only it wasn’t a bit overwhelming at some parts, it might have been the redeeming track for this unit, but it wasn’t.
Regarding the duos tracks:
Toshiki Masuda and Takahashi Naozumi were paired up once again and to our surprise they did it again – a bad track with poor vocal performance by both singers (in comparison with what they’ve shown us in previous releases). Another odd ball in this release that failed to impress even a little.
On the other side, and the only redeeming factor in this release, is KENN and Yuto Suzuki‘s duo track, 真夏のジャスティス. Fast, energetic and powerful, mixing heavy rock with electronica, it gave us so much to think about. This is what Marginal#4‘s sound was all about when the unit debuted with 100万回の愛革命, and is the sound the unit has soon after lost. KENN and Yuto were on top of their game in this track and saved this single from being a complete flop.
Individually we need to address some issues:
Toshiki Masuda was barely noticeable in the unit tracks (although he was featured on it and had several lines in both tracks), but his performance was weak, bland and lacked the strenght that Masuda always managed to bring to the table.
On another side although Takahashi Naozumi is the top singer of this unit, it was weird to listen to him almost self destructing in this release. There was no place for him to shine in both tracks, maninly because UFO is plain trash and the last track didn’t require outstanding vocal work, Naozumi was almost like a nobody, relying solely in his mid-toned vocals that seemed to be quickly over shadowed by Yuto Suzuki (as both have almost the same vocal tone when relying in mid-tones), the member that improved the most in this release.
KENN fared well in his duo track and managed to grab the spotlight quite a few times in the unit tracks in the midst of a fierce/hungry for the spotlight Suzuki, a broken Naozumi and a lost Masuda.
In the end this release didn’t grab our attention and it’s clear that the unit is on a downward spiral, even though they released a strong 恋のAKQJ10(ロイヤルフラッシュ)！ in their best of back in April. The unit’s fragilities need to be addressed as soon as possible and the unit needs to find a way out of this mess quickly – either going towards a new sound or back to their origins.
Either way we’re waiting to see how things unfold in Marginal #4‘s next single.
“UFO” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.