Gakuto Kajiwara’s “Road Movie” is a trip down memory lane, exploring nostalgia, love, and care through a set of semi-acoustic songs with tasteful funk and citypop influences.
Title: ロードムービー Release date: 28/09/2022 Label: AVEX Genre: Rock / Acoustic Pop-Rock / Citypop
Tracklist (only the regular edition was reviewed):
1 - 海のエンドロール 2 - otona 3 - ぼくらのメロディ (lyrics and composition by Gakuto Kajiwara) 4 - 君と僕と、僕たちのキセキ 5 - わすれないように (lyrics and composition by Gakuto Kajiwara)
Track by track analysis:
1 – 海のエンドロール
“Umi no End roll” welcomes you with a hopeful semi-acoustic sound. The verses are all about their good vibes, enjoying the comfortable mid-tempo as the guitars bring in a lot of emotion to the spotlight.
While the first part of the verses is rather quiet. Its slow pace feels almost like you are revisiting memories. It is sweet, gentle, and nostalgic at times. It puts a smile on your face.
When you get to the chorus, the dynamic changes and it is as if the soundscape widens around you. Acoustic guitars go for open chords, the electric guitars tap into a brighter sound while the bassline adds a lullabyish bounce.
While not the most technical or eventful performance ever, Gakuto Kajiwara’s steady tone and gentle delivery help flesh out this nostalgic performance, adding just the necessary layer of warmth on top, perfect for this autumn.
2 – otona
The vibe changes ever-so-slightly for “otona”, song that brings a mature twist to Gakuto Kajiwara’s music. The breakbeat adds a massive bounce, something that the punchy bassline further enhances as soon as it makes its entrance.
In the verses, you are presented with a quieter sound as Kajiwara sweetly performs this song. A punchy bassline and funky guitar riffs are toned down during that part, only coming into full bloom when the time comes for the chorus.
And let me tell you, this chorus feels so good. It has a bit of a retro twist to it – embracing hip-hop – with its bouncy bassline but also a cheeky fun side to it – 90s pop – as well as the neon lights soundscape created by the funky guitar riffs (winking at citypop).
This is the kind of chorus that you could be listening to for hours and hours and it would never get old – if it was instrumental only – and, as it is, makes it so that “otona” is right up there in perfect loungy territory. This is a feel-good song on all fronts.
3 – ぼくらのメロディ
The loungy, space-disco-meets-citypop-inspired sound is still here for “Bokura no Melody”. A rhodes piano beautifully adds decadence to this slow tune. Subtly, funky guitar licks and an emotional bassline join the simple triplets percussion.
In the background, a piano melody makes its entrance, adding another loungy, emotional layer to this tune.
The chorus is as simple as the verses, leaving the talking for Kajiwara’s passionate, slightly raspy performance (worth mentioning that he is the lyricist and composer for this song).
A saxophone joins this song mid-way through, just before the bridge in which the rhodes piano, guitars, and bassline take turns adding more color to the soundscape created for you.
When you look around you, you’re enveloped in a warm, passionate, and mature soundscape and honestly, you won’t want this to end. It feels right.
4 – 君と僕と、僕たちのキセキ
Late, nostalgic summer vibes take over in the citypop tune “Kimi To Boku to, bokutachi no kiseki”.
The intro is full of color, instantly putting a smile on the face with its feel-good vibe. As you are introduced to the verses, you’ll notice the groovy bassline enveloping you, leading you to the warm chorus.
And in this chorus, wah-wah guitar riffs and strings take over, leaving the rhodes piano and drums in the background. The instrumental is rather simple in its presentation however there are layers and layers of instruments – and little details – in the pre-chorus and chorus that deserve more than one listen.
While enveloped in a dreamy sound in this neon-light soundscape, Gakuto Kajiwara goes all out on his vibrato and falsetto to deliver a performance with a lot of depth and quite a mature vibe.
5 – わすれないように
“Wasurenai you ni” is your beautiful, emotional semi-acoustic ballad overflowing with passion while revisiting memories of a past love.
Acoustic guitars take over in this tune, creating a warm yet nostalgic sound that sets the tone for the whole track. Slowly, electric guitars, drums, and a punchy bassline join in alongside Kajiwara’s emotionally clean vocals.
While I am not the biggest fan of the “la la la” insert parts in songs – they almost always feel like lazy writing -, in this case, given how those appear later on in the song as the tension overflows, it ends up feeling right.
And that happens because the build-up to that part was well done. The right amount of tension carries over to the outro so when that part hits you, you’re already comfortably sitting around the campfire and will want to sing along to this track.
All in all, it feels like the perfect way to wrap up this mini-album, coming full circle.
It is rare for a seiyuu artist to mature this quickly. I’m quite impressed with Gakuto Kajiwara’s growth as a solo artist, showing a lot of composure as a singer, easily settling for a sound that suits his voice, and creating a whole unique vibe and energy about himself.
In my 12 years following seiyuu artists, this was the fastest I’ve seen growth like this. Usually, seiyuu artists take between 3 to 4 years to find their identity as artists to be this mature.
Kajiwara performs in “Road Movie” as if this was his 5th year as a solo artist. This maturity as an artist shows as well in his compositions and lyrics.
“Bokura no Melody” and “Wasurenai you ni” stand out, alongside “otona”, as the best songs in this mini-album. Good vibes aplenty, simplicity in the compositions, clarity in the vocals, and beautiful, cozy soundscapes to enjoy.
“Road Movie” ends up being a trip down memory lane, exploring nostalgia, love, and care through a set of semi-acoustic songs with tasteful funk and citypop influences.
On top of those are Gakuto Kajiwara’s smooth and always steady vocals. His clarity and consistency across tracks and with each continue to impress me and, by the end of it all, there’s no way I won’t be wanting more and more from his performances.
Another strong outing by the rising star.
“Road Movie” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.
“Road Movie” is available for streaming on Spotify.
Do not support piracy. Remember to support Gakuto Kajiwara’s solo career by streaming via official outlets.