Although with good ideas and performances at its core, “hear me?” never ends up showcasing the vocal powerhouse that is Daiki Yamashita.
Title: hear me? Release date: 09/06/2021 Label: A-Sketch Genre: Pop-Rock/Ska/Electronica
1 - 列偶像
2 - Tail
3 - Hello
4 - I’m in love
5 - 誰かを
Track by track analysis:
1 – 列偶像
Atmospheric synths set the tone for “Retsu Guuzou”. Right off the bat, the song has strong electronica influences balanced by intense toms-driven drums and a beautiful piano melody.
There is some urgency and intensity in the verses that I was not expecting. Then, as you make your way to the chorus, more and more rock influences kick in.
When it is time for the chorus itself, we’re surrounded by deep guitar riffs and a punchy bassline.
The bridge stands out for its calm tone, almost giving off a dreamy vibe before preparing itself for the last chorus and outro. Worth noting the guitar solo on your left ear during the outro. Nice touch to add yet another layer of emotion to the song.
On the vocal end, Daiki Yamashita showcases his singing skills, delivering a complete performance that covers his comfortable mid-range, tackles into head voice territory for those high notes, and delivers solid long notes.
Solid first out and an intriguing opening to the mini-album.
2 – Tail
The album’s leading track brings big orchestral elements to the spotlight. It has a grandiose vibe thanks to the strings quartet and timpani however, that changes dramatically for the rest of the song.
You still have the call and response chants raising the tension – and quite possibly make you want to sing your heart out along to it – but you also have a hip-hop beat leading the way in the verses and a contrasting, rock-driven chorus.
When it comes to listening to “Tail” it’s best to expect the unexpected given how many different influences are encompassed in this instrumental. I, for one, love the focus on making the song sound epic with those pounding, echo-y timpani setting the tone.
That, with those chants, leaves a mark. I’m not so sure what was the focus with hip-hop and rock each taking their spot in different parts of the song. It doesn’t sound bad but I felt like the transitions weren’t as smooth as intended with the composition.
As far as vocals go, Daiki Yamashita delivered chants for you to sing along and a comfortable performance riding on mid-tones.
3 – Hello
Big brass spreads its charms in “Hello”, a song that embraces a summery sound mixing rock, ska, and hip-hop.
Ska gives off those feel-good vibes going on in this song, mainly courtesy by that leading brass section. Adding to it are funky guitar riffs, glitchy synths, a delicate piano melody – far in the background – and a hearty bassline.
The verses are simple, riding on a comfortable mid-tempo but it is the chorus that steals the show for me. It is fun without being cheesy, it is melodic without being exaggerated and the vocal direction for that part is focused on vibing to the bassline.
And yes, those vocals are pretty cool. Daiki Yamashita raises his singing tone and taps a bit further into his tenor range to grab those high, bright notes that accentuate the carefree tone of the song.
The perfect change of tone in the mini-album.
4 – I’m in love
Distant guitar riffs, strings staccato, and a simple snap-finger beat lead the way in “I’m in love”. The song progresses with paradiddles on the drums, almost like a marching band has joined in.
Slowly and comfortably, the song progresses to the chorus, changing slightly the dynamics to this track. The chorus is bright, hopeful, and warm with fun guitar riffs, strings, simple splashy drums, and a deep bassline embellishing the track.
And Daiki Yamashita goes for an emotional performance with plenty of head voice in the mix to accentuate certain words or phrases. His mid-tones in the verses are rock solid, his long notes once again impress for how steady they are.
A cutesy song with an early 00s pop-rock sound that will sound nostalgic to many.
5 – 誰かを
Wrapping up this mini-album is “Dareka o”. And this is where things get incredibly interesting.
The intro has Yamashita and a piano at center stage. Nothing else around them. Slowly, that cold, empty venue starts to be complemented by a sweet bassline, emotional strings, and hard-hitting, slow-paced drums.
The chorus is both rich in and deprived of color. The contrast between the full instrumental and slow pianissimo of the instrumental, putting aside all other instruments, reverting to the stripped-down piano accompaniment is something that will put you on a rollercoaster ride.
Then, as the song bids you goodbye, the outro goes bonkers in its intensity. That was kind of weird – in a good way – perhaps hinting that this CD has a continuation.
This is the kind of song in which you can fully understand how good of a singer Daiki Yamashita is. He starts with barely any support in the instrumental and steadily builds up a performance that will make you want to hear more.
The performance does have some quirks and little details that will make you feel something may be off. Worth noting that all increases made to the tension of this song came from his performance alone, not the instrumental. So, although the performance may sound off – not in key, just the overall vibe -, Yamashita is doing quite the solid job to make this song come to life.
Strong way to wrap up this mini-album, or, should I say, leave it with an open ending? It sure seemed like it to me.
Daiki Yamashita’s “hear me?” is a long-awaited album. If you’ve been following his path in the music industry, delivering outstanding performances with the most varied 2D groups, this solo debut was more than wanted and anticipated.
And fans could finally hear what Yamashita’s sound is as a solo artist. Well, I doubt he had any input in the music he had to perform but still, the music was tailored to his singing skills, the vibe that A-Sketch wanted to give to him as a solo artist, and what is trendy nowadays (hence a lot of hip-hop could be found in this mini-album).
I wouldn’t say any of the songs have a remarkable composition but there are plenty of cool ideas going on, some better fleshed out than others.
“Tail” had too much going on in its instrumental. At least it felt like the composers first wrote 3 different songs in completely polarizing music genres then pasted together the best parts in those to craft that song. Rock, hip-hop, and orchestral in the same song yet never at the same time ended up giving off that vibe to me. This is not to say that the song is bad – it’s pretty good – but sounds off at times and the transitions between sections end up being a bit rough.
Also in the same tone was “Retsu Guuzou”, a song that has a lot of electronica and hip-hop there, and once again, rock makes an appearance but by itself in the chorus.
“I’m in love” is a cutesy pop song with a warm sound and emotional performance. While it is an okay song, it is far from showcasing the best of Daiki Yamashita on the vocal end, and the sound is a tad generic in comparison with other songs in this mini-album.
The best songs in this mini-album are “Hello”, a bubby, summery ska song that spreads good vibes through its brassy instrumental, and “Dareka o”. The latter is a stunner.
From stripped down to packed and complex, “Dareka o” takes you on an emotional ride, later on delivering a genuinely weird blow through its oddly intense outro.
Once again, I feel like the mini-album may be just the 1st part out of 2 CD releases. You usually don’t end an album that openly, or at least with a fade-in, you do the opposite. Well, this is just what is usually done, for all I know, the composer may have done that to lead you into a sense of “oh, this song is going to get intense” and then… nothing. Pure composition trolling is also a possibility. Still, I like to think that this was just an appetizer for a second part.
The vocals while incredibly robust, without any mistakes whatsoever, were too “safe”.
I’ve mentioned a couple of times that this is something to be expected out of all debut CDs by seiyuu artists.
Since they are trailing a new path and don’t really know what suits them and certainly don’t want to put anyone off by going way too dramatic or intense, performances end up being… okay. But far from remarkable or memorable.
What you get in “hear me?” is a set of rock-solid performances by Daiki Yamashita but all far from showcasing the power vocal that he is.
That’s okay as his performances were far from being an issue, he was still showcasing his control and technique here and there but he never got fancy in his performances. In a way, his performance in “Dareka o” gives hints of that but it was still a really restrained performance from him.
All in all, Daiki Yamashita’s “hear me?” is a solid debut mini-album, one that makes me want more music, hopefully showcasing his growth – or him finding his colors as an artist – and technicality as a singer.
“hear me?” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.
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