“DARE TO DREAM” is Miyu Irino‘s last album and release before the start of his hiatus. Irino leaves us with an entertaining “see you soon“, in what is his best album to date, a release that will put everyone with a smile on their face.
Album: DARE TO DREAM Label: Kiramune Release date: 30/11/2016 Genre: J-Rock/Jazz
1. フレンズ 2. HIGH FIVE 3. MONSTER 4. 流星のキミへ 5. Joyful 6. 涙の水面 7. melody 8. トップランナー 9. 嘘と未来と 10. Crazy Love 11. FrameとEdgeと、その向こう側 12. ENTER THE NEW WORLD！
Track by track analysis:
“Friends” is a pop-rock track unlike anything he’s done before. This song is pretty unique by itself from instrumental to the vocal performance. The instrumental piece features a laidback mid-tempo beat envelopped in minimal synth pads to set the ethereal mood that the verses bring out. With quiet, sometimes acappella verses, this track is really one of a kind in his repertoire. The track ends in a completely unexpected way as well – make sure to pay attention to it. If you know a little bit about western indie/rock bands, this instrumental leans a bit towards INTERPOL‘s style of music – especially the guitar and bass work. This song is the best way to kick off this album, there’s really no words that can explain just how angelic Miyu sounds throught the song or just how well the instrumental fit with his performance. Simply perfect. 5/5
2. HIGH FIVE
If you’re up for some groovy time then HIGH FIVE is just the thing you need. Undoubtly, the main point on this track is not the funky guitars or the melodic piano parts but the reverberating slap bass, the one responsible for leading the way for all other instruments in this track. The instumental piece by itself is extremely entertaining from start to finish, but this playful, funky mood this track gives is far from being cheesy or overly bright in an annoying way. It’s been ages since he’s released such bright songs so this one is in the clear. The highlight lies with Miyu‘s falsetto, something to die for – giving some extra touches to the fun chorus. 4.5/5
Raging guitars take the front seat for this track. MONSTER is a textbook rock song with powerful instrumentalization, with loads of energy provided by the splashy drums and fast guitar work. The chorus is a treat both instrumentally – with those guitar solos e thunderous bass work -, as well as vocally with Miyu giving his all to match up with the rawness of the instrumental track. The final result is quite amazing: he trackled everything, even those high but rough notes with flying colors. Looking at the overall feel of the track it’s impossible not to be or get excited about this track – track that on a live context will a lot of fun to both perform and listen to. 5/5
Slowing down a bit, 流星のキミへ is an exciting pop-punk track with a hopeful message in it. This time around the instrumental piece is rather simple, resorting to punk-rockish drums, rather laidback guitar riffs (with an interesting solo in the bridge), adding only an extra edge with the bassline – something that has been on point in this release so far. Vocally, Miyu embranced the lyrics and performed them with the same excitement as the instrumental. While this track might sound as good as the previous ones it lacks a bit in terms of instrumental – especially if we compare with the previous tracks. 4/5
Rock is completly put aside to give way for this pop tune. “Joyful” replaces guitars with synth pads, powerful drums with synthetic ones, leaving the bass as the only element on its core. This track has a sort of sweet touch to it, maybe because of the synths that are more toned down than what you’d expect for a happy-go-lucky kind of track. The chorus is bright, not to the point of being annoying or embarassing, but enough to give a sort satisfying feel to it. This is an interesting change of pace and one we weren’t expecting at all after four rock tracks. Miyu‘s vocal performance also adapted to the track, sounding completely different in comparison with anything on this album. Our only issue with this song lies with its chorus – that sounds a bit boring after a couple of listens -, other than that we don’t have anything to point out. 4/5
A delicate piano melody and emotional strings welcome us to this gentle ballad just in time for Christmas. His sweet vocals tread carefully the beautiful lyrics, almost as if he was serenading the listener. To help out to his task are the pizzicato strings in the back, the jazzy, slow tempo drums and the acoustic guitar. The instrumental piece is so rich that you’ll need a couple of listens to get a gist of all the instruments and little bits added to this song. As if it wasn’t enough for us to be mesmerized with Miyu‘s stunning vocals or the instrumental piece, there came one thing we weren’t expecting. As soon as the classic saxophone made its solo, we were left in awe. It gave such a luxurious touch to the whole song, reminiscing of classic ballads from the 80’s and early 90’s. 5/5
“melody” goes back to Miyu‘s acoustic pop-rock with a pinch of groove. Bass, bongos, rhodes piano, brass, acoustic guitar and drums are just some of the many instruments you can find in this track, blended in a way that reminds us a bit of “I am I“, track featured in “Uso to Mirai to” and one of his best to date. The vocal performance on this one is quite relaxed throught the whole piece, giving that laidback feel we were already experiencing from the instrumental. Simple track but incredibly rich in emotion. 4.5/5
トップランナー is yet another loungy jazz-pop track that makes us reminisce about the summer. This time around the piano is the lead in an instrumental piece. Funky bassline, jazzy drums and a playful piano melody complete this captivating and incredibly relaxing instrumental. Miyu‘s falsetto melts the listener in the chorus, that is if you weren’t already impressed or dazzled by his mix of rapping and singing in the verses. We can only say that this song has a lot of charisma going on and that is mainly because of his unique vocal performance. 5/5
[Previously reviewed] Miyu presents us a powerful acoustic ballad. “Uso to mirai to” has a sweet piano melody as the lead, being joined by spashy slow tempo drums, acoustic guitar, rhodes piano and a contrabass. This gentle and delicate instrumental is enough to grab our attention for its simplicity. Miyu‘s honeyed vocals left us dazzled. His performance is spotless and of top tier quality throughout the whole song. The emotion on his vocals, and his tone stability showed us an improved Miyu ready to show everyone why he’s the most talented member among his Kiramune peers. Flawless performance in one of the most beautiful ballads in his repertoire. 5/5
10. Crazy Love
Crazy Love is a mid to up-tempo jazzy rock track with a groovy bassline and funky guitar riffs. The drums are extremely technical and rather speedy in some sections of the track, raising the tension on this track, ultimately making this track sound a joy to listen to. Miyu‘s vocals are sweet and with some interesting quirks in the intro (pay attention closely to that part). A bundle of fun without being overwhelming. 5/5
Back to the rock sound that first greeted us in this release, FrameとEdgeと、その向こう側 mixes melodic guitar riffs with mid-tempo snary drums and once again top of the line bass playing. The track builds up towards the chorus resorting to the help of claps and choir which beg you to join in the fun. Vocally there’s nothing specific to point out, the performance is just as we expected – fierce but smooth at the same time. 4.5/5
12. ENTER THE NEW WORLD！
Once again we’re faced with another unexpected turn of events. This is a disco song! Enter the new world! sounds like a message to his fans as he enters a new stage in his life. Incredibly entertaining, this song has everything that is required to have a good disco track: funky guitar playing, groovy slap bass and brass elements. Regardless to say, Miyu tackles this track with a fun mindset and slick vocals, making this song one of the most exciting in the album. A fantastic piece to complete this release. 5/5
“DARE TO DREAM” is so well composed that it left us in awe. What do we mean with this? Listening to this album from start to finish you really get a sense of every single song belonging to this album and fitting like a glove with the overall theme. Miyu wants us to be more daring, to have fun and that is exactly what he accomplished with this album. He kicked off strongly with a trio of rock songs and gradually softened up to reach a mild section in the album with Joyful and 涙の水面, then went back again all out but this time with a smile on his face and fun songs in his hands. Given the way the album kicked off, it was expectable that the overall genre would be rock – we weren’t wrong about that -, but what Miyu brought to the table to spice up his rock sound was something we weren’t expecting at all. Adding jazz elements or even going all out with disco music were two things he wasn’t afraid to add to this release. Both of them contributed to the overall fun mood of album – which is a major plus for us-, on the other side, both of the enriched the instrumental pieces in an unique way.
Miyu has grown so much since his debut. That was easy to notice with E=MC2 and it was even easier to notice with “Uso to mirai to“. His vocals never fail to put a smile on us with all those falsettos and belting of high notes, he also sounds incredibly steady in lower registries and rougher, rawer performances. He’s managed to fit in almost every genre and, at the same time, morph his music to a genre he’s comfortable and sounds good in. If you compare this album with “vivid” it’s as if we’re talking about two different people. He’s far from being the pretty boy singing dance tunes or preppy songs, he’s matured and completely detached himself from that image that most seiyuu have to maintain during the first steps in the music business.
We look at this album and can only say that this is his best. “DARE TO DREAM” is by far Miyu‘s best album to date, a joy to listen to, a hopeful and daring release in which it was okay to have powerful rock songs, ballads, pop tracks as well as jazzy rock and disco. Everything blended in a way that it’s just impossible to say that something feels wrong in the album because the songs are too dispar in theme or in composition. There’s nothing like that.
Irino Miyu made sure to make this album close to perfect. A gorgeous and entertaining piece to listen to from start to finish with a smile on our face.
Miyu, we can only wish a successful tour and good luck to your studies. Here’s to hoping that your next comeback can dazzle us with even more quality.
“DARE TO DREAM” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.