Review | Haruta “Air Quotes”

Anthos*

Haruta (CV: Toshiki Masuda) brings a mature take on his bubby sound with this entry in the Air Quotes solo series.

Anthos 2nd solo series -Air Quotes- HARUTA
Title: Anthos* 2nd solo series -Air Quotes- “HARUTA”
Label: AIЯRIDE RECORDS. / Movic
Release date: 17/08/2023
Genre: EDM

Tracklist:

1 - Core
2 - Favorite Playlist

Track by track analysis:

1 – Core

“Core” kicks off with an intense beat and synths, bringing forth a sound that Haruta nor Anthos* had ever tried before.

Fancy and funky, the instrumental is, by itself, plenty of fun, creating the perfect stage for Haruta’s smooth performance. 

The chorus slows down a lot for its first part, with part of the instrumental sounding almost like it is going backwards (when it isn’t). The bassline gets more intense and punchy while the snare hits really hard before the song cranks up the speed, wrapping up the chorus in a flash.

Regarding the performance by Toshiki Masuda (as Haruta), there is a lot to say. 

First off, he kicks off the performance with a lower tone and volume, almost whispering the lyrics to you

Then he raises his tone and brings a lot of brightness and energy to the performance. 

Then, Masuda’s vibrato enters, accentuating particular parts in almost every verse (that alone adds more color to his performance).

I love this performance to bits. It is mature, energetic, and delivered with a consistency and control that left me wanting even more in “Core”.

2 – Favorite Playlist 

Haruta wraps up this single with “Favorite Playlist“, song that brings to the spotlight a retro, synthwave sound that you won’t find anywhere else (so far in Anthos*’s repertoire).

Atmospheric synths set the retro-futuristic tone for this song, creating a wide, uncharted soundscape around the listener. 

Slowly, that soundscape is populated by a pounding bassline and polysynths, cranking up the energy in this song.

But this is exactly where the song goes south in my opinion. 

The chorus goes wild on the synths but completely disregards the awesome synthwave sound in the intro, instead just turning into a poly synth-driven tune with vocal modulation going on.

To top it all off, the chorus drags on for quite a while, having a 2nd part to itself that is a bit clearer but in not much help the song stand out positively.

For this performance, Toshiki Masuda (as Haruta) is performing in a high, peppy tone that is a massive contrast to the previous performance. This tone is usually not that complementary to Masuda’s singing skills and as such, the performance sounds odd in the chorus.

While with a strong intro and good energy overall, “Favorite Playlist” ends up falling short on this CD.


Final considerations 

Haruta (CV: Toshiki Masuda) brings a mature take on his bubby sound with this entry in the Air Quotes solo series.

“Core” is an easy choice as the best song in this release, bringing to the spotlight a mature and fun sound, not to mention a performance that is tantalizing.

Whenever Toshiki Masuda goes low on his baritone range he has the perfect stage to shine. He brings a lot of power and energy in that vocal register – being closer to his natural singing tone – and, to top it all off, he brings a lot of control and consistency to his performance. 

The cherry on top of the cake comes with the emotions he delivers with his performance. He keeps on improving in his performance of the emotions in the lyrics, delivering performances that make the listeners feel something and be invested in the song itself. 

While this isn’t something new – it’s more an ongoing thing for Masuda -, it is always impressive to hear how he interprets the lyrics and what he does with those in a performance. He has gotten really good in the last couple of years. 

A couple of years back, if he performed “Core”, the song would have sounded flat despite its energy being the same. 

This growth may go unnoticed by many, and that’s why I am yet again putting a spotlight on it. Masuda keeps on growing as a singer and performer and it is a delight to hear that with each song that Anthos* releases.

“Favorite Playlist” is a song with good vibes and a lot of energy to spare however its chorus quickly gets repetitive and Toshiki Masuda (as Haruta) is outside of his comfort zone for this performance going a bit higher and peppy for the performance, leading up to an odd sounding tune.

In comparison to “Core”, “Favorite Playlist” pales even more. Despite its ambitious retro-futuristic sound – that could have been better explored instead of being instantly ditched past the intro of the song -, everything else sounded generic. While it can be a fun song to listen to – especially if you love peppy pop tunes -, for me it missed capitalizing on everything it was hinting in its intro.

All in all, Haruta’s Air Quotes entry is fun, energetic, and a good representation of his warm and playful personality. “Core” takes the crown as the best song in this release while “favorite playlist” left me wanting it to go in a completely different direction.

Strong entry yet far from being a highlight in the Air Quotes solo CD series.

What is Hana-Doll*?

Hana-Doll* is an idol project created by Movic (TSUKIPRO, VAZZROCK, Tsukiuta, etc.). Anthos* and Loulou*di are groups signed to the fictional talent agency Amagiri Production.

All CDs in this franchise include drama tracks and songs by each group.

Anthos* consists of Kent ItoWataru KomadaToshiki MasudaShunichi TokiDaiki HamanoSeiichiro Yamashita, and Shun Horie.

Loulou*di consists of Toshiyuki ToyonagaShunsuke Takeuchi, and Daiki Yamashita.


“Air Quotes” is available for streaming on Spotify.


Do not support piracy. Remember to support Anthos* by streaming via official outlets.

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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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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Core
Favorite Playlist

SUMMARY

Haruta (CV: Toshiki Masuda) is a departure from his usual cheerful sound to embrace a more mature tone in "Air Quotes". "Core" takes the spotlight as the standout track, while "Favorite Playlist" misses the mark by not fully capitalizing on its potential. While it's a strong entry, it doesn't quite reach the heights of other releases in the Air Quotes solo CD series.

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Haruta (CV: Toshiki Masuda) is a departure from his usual cheerful sound to embrace a more mature tone in "Air Quotes". "Core" takes the spotlight as the standout track, while "Favorite Playlist" misses the mark by not fully capitalizing on its potential. While it's a strong entry, it doesn't quite reach the heights of other releases in the Air Quotes solo CD series.Review | Haruta "Air Quotes"