Review | Gambét “Boku x Kimi Checkmate”

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GAMDOL Gambét makes a solid debut with an intense blend of pop and hip-hop in “Boku X Kimi Checkmate”.

Introduction

GAMDOL is an original mixed-media project that puts in the same stage idols and gambling. The project follows the idol group Gambét through voice dramas + music releases.

Gambét (read: Gambit) is a 5-member idol group led by Sho Mikado (CV: Junta Terashima). The group’s lineup includes as well Hibiki Tougo (CV: Shoya Chiba), LUKE (CV: Yuki Sakakihara), Yuusei Kannagi (CV: Jin Ogasawara), and Rihito Kise (CV: Taito Ban).

If you want to know more about this project, make sure to check THTFHQ’s GAMDOL extended feature.

Review

Title: 僕×君チェックメイト
Label: GAMDOL Project
Release date: 13/10/2021
Genre: Pop/Hip-hop

Tracklist:

1 - 僕×君チェックメイト (composition, lyrics and arrangement by HoneyWorks)
2 - Drama Track Part1. [Dismembered] 
3 - Drama Track Part2. [inference]
4 - STAYBACK
5 - 僕×君チェックメイト(inst)
6 - STAYBACK(inst)

Track by track analysis:

1 – 僕×君チェックメイト

A bright piano melody opens the curtains to this uptempo, happy song.

Boku x Kimi Checkmate” soon grows from that intro, introducing electric guitars, a sweet punchy bassline, and splashy drums, all of those embracing a comfortable mid-tempo.

The verses are a bit more contained in their delivery, with delicate bells playing in the background as accents that add a bit of gentleness and magic to this song.

Still, the focus in that section is on the vocals, those being a good mix of mid and high tones.

The chorus is incredibly bright and happy-go-lucky – well, all the song is -, with synths joining in the bouncy instrumental that accompanies Gambét’s members from start to finish.

The song features a fancy double solo with the piano and guitars going at it. This is a nice touch although both solos ended up being relatively brief – to fit both in the song –, still, in a pop song as long as this one (a whopping 5 minutes), it was a well-needed addition.

Good teamwork by all 5 members, with baritones and tenors covering for each other, harmonizing and delivering powerful unisons throughout.

4 – STAYBACK

A deep bassline, dramatic minor-key, broken synth melodies, and dramatic cello melodies paint the soundscape in dark hues.

STAYBACK” kicks off with intensity, with a deep, snare-driven beat leading the way, staccato strings adding a sense of urgency to the first part of the verse.

The second part goes quiet for a bit, bringing the bassline to the top, punching its way through the instrumental while enhancing the power in the performances.

The chorus brings in old-school early 00s pop vibes, with the beat going crazy on the triplets, the bass drum hitting harder than ever and strings bringing back the drama and urgency in the verses however, with that drama being further fleshed out by the vocals – a mix of rap and clean singing.

The break is absolutely haunting, with the broken synth melodies playing in the empty soundscape, letting the listener catch their breath for a moment before the group powers their way with what is the most impressive performance in this single.

On the vocals side, there is a lot going on.

Jin Ogasawara is mainly in charge of clean vocals and screams – there a cool long note leading to the last chorus – and has a smooth rap flow in the verses, Junta Terashima is everywhere, singing and rapping with the same quality, which is impressive.

Yuki Sakakihara and Shoya Chiba are absolute monsters in this song, going hard in their rap parts and dazzling with their harmonies in the chorus. And Taito Ban arrives as a massive surprise, with him being both awesome as a clean singer and rapper. It is worth noting that leading to the chorus there is always a head voice section performed by Ban and it is perfect.

All in all, “STAYBACK” arrives as a big surprise, the other side of the coin for Gambét, a side that, if the group explores further in upcoming releases may attract a lot of people to their music.


Final considerations

Gambét showcases its dual charms with a contrasting performance in its debut single “Boku x Kimi Checkmate”.

There are a couple of interesting things going on in this release. Let me break those down for you.

Although I do not enjoy overly bright, bubbly, and generic pop (I call it “idol pop”) like in “Boku x Kimi Checkmate”, plenty is going on in the composition that impresses me (well, it’s Honeyworks after all, they are an awesome composition team).

One thing that may go unnoticed in “Boku x Kimi Checkmate” is its structure on top of those whooping 5 minutes of length.

Most idol songs are 3 minutes, 4 minutes tops. Impressing listeners in the shortest amount of time and making the song as easy to understand as possible is one tactic to bring attention to idol music.

As a result, no matter how many members a group has, the lines can go from 1 second to 20 seconds for each member (and I am here assuming that there are no unison parts, which, in this case, there are).

One way to ensure that all members are heard is to extend the length of the song. So far, so good.

The problem is, crafting a 5-minute bright idol pop song is no easy feat and past the 2nd chorus, especially with pop music, things start to get dull – hence Honeyworks went for a double solo in the bridge to add some spice to the song.

While “Boku x Kimi Checkmate” is quite the long pop song, it doesn’t feel like it as the lines as evenly distributed between the members, the 1st and 2nd verses have a completely different feel between them and Honeyworks even brought a double solo for the bridge.

Variety made the song quite enjoyable and if you’re into preppy, bright pop music, Gambét’s “Boku x Kimi Checkmate” is perfect for you.

Now, the highlight in this CD is, easily, “STAYBACK”.

From the old-school hip-hop sound with urgent staccato strings to the insane mix of rap and clean singing, this song hit all the right boxes for me.

Massive props to Yuki Sakakihara and Shoya Chiba on the rap side. They have insane rap flows.

Sakakihara and Chiba were opposites in tone for this song (Sakakihara in his natural tenor range, and Chiba in his faux baritone range) but their rap parts definitely left a mark.

Chiba is insanely fast and filled with swagger (mind you, this was the very first time Chiba perform a rap song for a 2D group) and Sakakihara is fierce in his delivery (Almost with a mocking undertone to his rap flow), something that instantly grabbed my attention to the performance (as opposed to the instrumental).

Also, Taito Ban may go unnoticed by his head voice notes going into the chorus as well as harmonies were a fantastic surprise, showing that this group has more talent than the already well-known talents of Junta Terashima, Jin Ogasawara, Shoya Chiba, and Yuki Sakakihara.

The clean parts by Jin Ogasawara are absolutely beautiful in a song that is far from being or wanting to sound like it.

And, of course, Gambét’s leader Junta Terashima shows once again he can do anything on the vocal end, rapping and singing with the same level of quality. Terashima is at a high level as a performer, leading the way for this incredibly talented group.

The stakes were high for Gambét’s debut single but “Boku x Kimi Checkmate” shows everyone that this group has a lot to offer starting from an interesting duality to their sound, unique franchise concept – gambling – and let’s not forget the untapped potential on the vocal end with a lineup comprised of new talents and underrated singers, all with a high ceiling in terms of their growth as performers.

Whether you’re a fan of preppy pop music or hard-hitting hip-hop with an old-school flavor, Gambét will impress you. Their sound is fancy, their talent is among the best in the seiyuu industry, the only thing lacking for them is the spotlight.

Do give them a chance if you have the time because you won’t regret it. Now, excuse me as I’m going to vibe to “STAYBACK”.


Boku x Kimi Checkmate” is not available for purchase at CDJAPAN.


REVIEW OVERVIEW

僕×君チェックメイト
STAYBACK

SUMMARY

Gambét showcases its dual charms with a contrasting performance in its debut single “Boku x Kimi Checkmate”. Whether you’re a fan of preppy pop music or hard-hitting hip-hop with an old-school flavor, Gambét will impress you. Their sound is fancy, their talent is among the best in the seiyuu industry, the only thing lacking for them is the spotlight. Do give them a chance if you have the time because you won’t regret it. Now, excuse me as I’m going to vibe to “STAYBACK”.
Vanessa Silva
Vanessa Silvahttps://www.handthatfeedshq.com
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder, content creator, and music reviewer. Basically, the only person managing everything at The Hand That Feeds HQ. Stumbling upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus" in 2011 was the start of this journey. If music is thought-provoking or deep, you may find her writing almost essays (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). She's the producer and host of the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).

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Gambét showcases its dual charms with a contrasting performance in its debut single “Boku x Kimi Checkmate”. Whether you’re a fan of preppy pop music or hard-hitting hip-hop with an old-school flavor, Gambét will impress you. Their sound is fancy, their talent is among the best in the seiyuu industry, the only thing lacking for them is the spotlight. Do give them a chance if you have the time because you won’t regret it. Now, excuse me as I’m going to vibe to “STAYBACK”. Review | Gambét "Boku x Kimi Checkmate"