QUELL return with “I saw a rainbow“, a release that sounds nothing like what the fans could expect from them.
Title: I saw a rainbow Label: Tsukino-Pro Release date: 30/06/2017 Genre: Ballad/Rock/Pop
1.ドラマ「shower」 2.ドラマ「sprinkling」 3.ドラマ「driving」 4.ドラマ「storm」 5.ドラマ「I saw a rainbow」 6.Seafloor 7.砕かれた霞 8.蒼い水
Track by track analysis:
QUELL take us to the bottom of the sea with this song. “Seafloor” is marked by its sorrowful vibe mainly due to the dramatic piano melody that takes the spotlight for this song. The slow paced, minimalistic instrumental in which piano, synths and strings coexist perfectly is exactly what the listener needs to let all the feelings in this song sink in. The vocal performance was, once again, spotless. “Seafloor” isn’t a powerful song in which QUELL are required to go all out like in previous songs. This piece is delicate and what we got was a befitting emotional performance from all members, making good use of their mid-toned vocals and harmonizations. Nice to see that QUELL have this side in them. 5/5
If you ever wondered how QUELL would sound if they ever challenged lyrical singing, listen to this song. 砕かれた霞 is a song that we could easily mistake as being from their labelmates GROWTH. The instrumental has some interesting middle eastern touches, especially in the chorus, be it from the specific instrumentalization in that part or the background female vocals. Kudos to the strings that simply take us to a different dimension. It’s as if we have a mix between James Bond and Laurence of Arabia soundtracks. It’s refined and has an exotic touch. Just like the previous song, guitars and drums aren’t much important to the instrumental, instead we have a variety of synth pads and piano parts mixed to create the exquisite, rustic and rich melody that serves as the backdrop to the stunning vocal performance delivered by all members. A mesmerizing performance on both ends. 5/5
First off, 蒼い水 seems like it doesn’t belong to this release at all. 蒼い水 ditches all the elements in previous songs to give way to guitars and up-tempo drums but the results are, somehow, mixed on our end. While it’s nice for a change to have a brighter song in the middle of such an heavy emotional release, it’s not that great when the quality suddenly drops because of the laziness behind it. It’s as if the producers were trying to avoid the whole single’s vibe to become too “dark” or “depressing” so they urgently needed a bright song to save the release – that really didn’t need any saving to begin with. So, what can we say about the instrumental? It certainly has some pop-punk vibes, especially coming from the punk-rockish drums and the simple guitar riffs. The chorus is upbeat but too predictable, getting boring after a second repetition and the main guitar riff that loops over in the background gets annoying faster than expected. Just when we thought that the vocal performance could actually save this song we found… yet more issues. Nogami and Nakamura struggle with the song’s key and always sound off in the verses. Even with Shunsuke and Nishiyama giving their all, it’s impossible to erase half of the group’s bumpy performance. 3.5/5
For their previous releases the unit showcased powerful vocals along electronic pop-rock instrumentals that dazzled everyone with its high quality and careful, well thought craft. This time around, QUELL have decided to venture to different music genres and stumbled faster than most groups riding on their momentum.
“I saw a rainbow” ‘s mood is, indeed, grim, dark and at times sorrowful. “Seafloor” was an excellent song, proving that a simple song can actually impact the listener in a deeper way than an overly produced song, they simply needed strong, capable vocals and good vocal directing and voilá, a song that left a deep emotional mark on us.
On another note, it was interesting how QUELL actually gave GROWTH a run for their money with the lyrical take on “砕かれた霞“. This song greatly benefitted from Shunsuke‘s deep vocals and technique that really sent shivers down our spine. “Someone is weeping…” is a killing part in this song. It was enjoyable to find such a rich song in this release. Some people might not pay attention to this or not be affect by this but several elements in the instrumental brought to life interesting imagery. The middle eastern inspired chorus took us to the deserts and the rustic instrumentalization in the verses took us to middle age Ireland and its beautiful greenish landscapes.
Unfortunately, there are less successful moments for this group and 蒼い水 is a perfect example of that. Of course it’s interesting when a group attempts new things, be it with their music or with the vocal direction, but some of those experiences are bound to tank at times, especially when those seem and sound rushed. Despite the fact that 蒼い水 had to potential to be an entertaining pop-rock song, the mix between the boring instrumental piece and the bumpy vocal performance held back the whole song.
Shunsuke Takeuchi, Shugo Nakamura, Sho Nogami and Koutaro Nishiyama showed us that there’s a lot of room for development. They went all out with this single, completely changing their sound and some things managed to work out, others failed. On our end we think that it would have been better for this whole release to keep the dramatic, sorrowful vibe from start to finish, that alone would make the whole release sound consistent. Nogami and Nakamura need to polish their vocals. It’s odd that in powerful songs they can actually keep up Takeuchi and Nishiyama‘s consistent vocals, but when it comes to a simple punk-pop song, they simply tank and deliver weak performances. It was unexpected and left us wondering what can happen to this group if they decide to embrace that music genre for future releases.
A worry that has come to light thanks to this release is that, as much as we love-hate their attempts with other music genres, we feel like the group might lose their identity if each and every time that they make a new release, their sound gets remade from scratch. If there’s something that really grabbed the fans’ attention were the fantastic instrumentals in the first single (of course the vocals helped a bit as well). Losing that “trademark sound” might end up hurting this group. We can only hope that the group can settle for a trademark sound and be consistent about it. We don’t want GROWTH 2.0, SOARA 2.0 and much less SolidS 2.0. We want the QUELL everyone fell in love with.
“SQ Quell Tandoku CD 2” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.