IDOLiSH7’s “Opus” feels like an emotional trip down memory lane showcasing what the group has gone through while, at the same time, having a positive focus on the future.
IDOLiSH7 consists of Yamato (CV: Yusuke Shirai), Iori (CV: Toshiki Masuda), Mitsuki (CV: Tsubasa Yonaga), Tamaki (CV: KENN), Sogo (CV: Atsushi Abe), Nagi (CV: Takuya Eguchi), and Riku (CV: Kensho Ono)
Title: Opus Label: Lantis Release date: 12/01/2022 Genre: Pop/Ballad
1 - WiSH VOYAGE 2 - Boys & Girls 3 - ハツコイリズム 4 - NATSU☆しようぜ！ 5 - NAGISA Night Temperature 6 - Mr.AFFECTiON 7 - Dancing∞BEAT!! 8 - Viva! Fantastic Life!!!!!!! 9 - Everything is up to us 10 - ナナツイロ REALiZE 11 - Sakura Message 12 - THE POLiCY 13 - Everyday Yeah! 14 - PARTY TIME TOGETHER 15 - DiSCOVER THE FUTURE
Track by track analysis:
1 – WiSH VOYAGE
“WiSH VOYAGE” is an upbeat electronic pop tune in which the drums’ presence is reduced to a minimum whereas synths exist in abundance.
The instrumental has some interesting melodic bits – mainly the funky guitar riffs after the second chorus as well as the bridge section, that present a quieter outlet to let the vocals shine.
Riding on a comfortable mid-tempo, IDOLiSH7 tackles simple verses and a hyped-up chorus, one that is certain to have everyone singing along to it.
In a vocal performance that had its shaky moments in Yusuke Shirai and Takuya Eguchi‘s performances, it was satisfying to find KENN and Atsushi Abe‘s making up for it with their smooth take on some of the notes.
Entertaining song but incredibly predictable – vibe, instrumental, progression – after looking back to their repertoire.
2 – Boys & Girls
Muffed guitar riffs lead the way as the peppy “Boys & Girls” takes the stage.
The song has a playful vibe, with guitars being funky, the beat having a tropical edge to it, the synths being big and summer-inspired, with every part flying by in an instant.
The chorus is sweet and simple in contrast with the drum & bass-inspired beat in that particular section (it’s almost like a breakbeat).
Matching this song’s good vibes are the warm performances by IDOLiSH7, spreading their charms in an entertaining performance with plenty of fancy solo parts and impressive teamwork in the verses (with the unison parts standing out).
While this is a song in the style of IDOLiSH7, I find it to be a matured version of the group’s hyped-up, peppy pop sound, suiting this mature group like a glove.
3 – ハツコイリズム
[As previously reviewed, revised]
Hatsukoi Rhythm shines with its acoustic instrumental with a romantic yet melancholic vibe.
Acoustic guitars, sweet piano melodies, gentle bassline, and drums create a warm and emotional soundscape as if IDOLiSH7 are serenading the listener as street lights illuminate them and snow falls.
The gentle instrumental shines, the vocal direction is consistent, with all members getting enough time in the spotlight.
There is a lot of quality going on in this sweet – slightly bittersweet – song that makes it easily one of the group’s best songs. Easily one of the highlights in this CD and IDOLiSH7’s repertoire, so far.
4 – NATSU☆しようぜ！
One of the most popular songs in the whole franchise – having been performed by both IDOLiSH7 and TRIGGER – is “NATSU☆Shiouze!”. This is a summer song with quite a fun rock-inspired sound.
The intro welcomes the listener to join in the fun, being pretty intense right off the bat, slowly transitioning for a quieter section – the verses – in which the vocals are left with the guitars and simple beat to make an impression.
The chorus brings a mix of overdriven guitars and muffled riffs on top of the simple bassy beat and pulsing synths. All this goes on in a comfortable mid-tempo as the vocals invite you to sing along to the lyrics.
One thing this song does extremely well is how the synths play their role in this song.
Atmospheric ones are playing in the background, creating a wide, summer soundscape while others – much closer to the listener – appear as “stabs” to accentuate certain parts of the song.
This way you have a song that is fun for pop fans, but also with a rock edge that may attract those that fancy a fun, entertaining twist to rock music.
5 – NAGISA Night Temperature
Wrapping up this single is a pop tune with an old-school twist to it. The piano and synth melodies are bright, the bassline is crunchy, the beat is bassy and comfortable, channeling 90s pop vibes.
The verses in “NAGISA Night Temperature” progress at a comfortable mid-tempo that makes the sweetness in this song seep through to the listener.
Warmth is the first thing that will stand out when the chorus hits you. It capitalizes on the song’s sweet vibe but further explores it with the addition of delicate strings in the background.
IDOLiSH7 made sure to entertain you with a bubbly, earnest performance in which all members showed their singing chops.
With the song having a funky twist and R&B influences, the focus on their performances was put on sounding incredibly melodic and smooth at all times – something they pulled off with ease.
Solid track that showcases how much IDOLiSH7 has improved in recent years.
6 – Mr.AFFECTiON
Mr.AFFECTiON is big on its progressive synths, glitchy synth hits and fills, a simple, bassy beat, and an upbeat main melody that takes this song to a whole new level of energizing (or energy-draining song if songs like this tend to drain you).
The bridge is made for this song to shine in a live setting.
Vocally, this group pulled off a synced and powerful performance that, together with the high throttle instrumental, was overflowing with energy.
7 – Dancing∞BEAT!!
[As previously reviewed, revised]
Dreamy synth pads, a bright synth lead, and a progressive beat complete this dance-pop instrumental. When listening to this song, you’ll notice that the verses sound better as opposed to the rest of the song.
A mix of dirty and old-school synths with a simple bassline creates a comfortable mid-tempo platform with little distractions. The progression, song structure, and that fantastic build-up to the chorus stand out for its quality.
The chorus is a disappointment in comparison with the strong verses, additionally, the dubstep-ish break was unnecessary and feels out of place in the middle of this bright, melodic pop song.
In terms of vocal performances, “Dancing∞BEAT!!” has chants, harmonizations, a little bit of everything necessary for a good live song. On record though, it sounds a bit lazy – that “la la la” section is a pointless filler and vibe killer.
Aside from that, everyone upped their game for this song with the MEZZO pair – KENN and Atsushi Abe – alongside Toshiki Masuda standing out for their quality.
This song had everything to impress, unfortunately, it didn’t execute well some of the ideas.
8 – Viva! Fantastic Life!!!!!!!
[As previously reviewed, revised]
“Viva! Fantastic Life!!!!!!!” is unlike anything you’ve heard from IDOLiSH7. The instrumentalization has serious 90s J-Pop vibes mixed with Latin percussion.
Everything about this song is new, there’s no song like this even among the other units in the IDOLiSH7 franchise (At the time the original review was written).
It initially seemed like a Latin dance song with some retro vibes but it’s much more than that. Get ready to be blown away with this song.
The instrumental kicks off with old-school synths mixed with timbales and other typical Latin percussion elements. However, things slow down when the verses kick in and that’s when an unexpected mature and alluring vibe takes over.
Everything about the instrumentalization in the verses is sexy, the same can’t be said about the chorus – that one is fun and really embraces the whole danceable vibe given by the Latin instrumentalization.
The song counts with a wide variety of instruments, all layered and crafted in a way that you won’t help but be impressed. Among the various instruments included in this rich instrumental are brass, bass, bongos, retro synths (some of those adding some “tropical” vibes), electric guitars, drums, and bass.
A closer listen will unveil even more minimalist elements and samples hidden in the background. The ending is unconventional, leaving the listener begging for more.
Well, the instrumental is mature, isn’t it? What about the vocals?
First things, first. Best decision ever: to let Toshiki Masuda kick off this song. If the instrumental wasn’t suggestive enough, his first low and melodic notes were more than enough to seal the deal.
But not everything is about him, everyone got unique parts to tackle, all a perfect fit with their vocals and singing quirks. KENN‘s vocals are as husky and alluring as ever and listeners find him singing and rapping to the groove. Atsushi Abe joined in and heated the performance with his sweet vocals and fast-paced rap. Yusuke Shirai‘s deep vocals fit perfectly with the vibe, making it impossible for the listener to escape for i7‘s grasp.
Although almost all members got rap parts (strangely Toshiki Masuda is the only one without those), the polished groovy Pythagoras rap line shone: Takuya Eguchi, Tsubasa Yonaga, and Yusuke Shirai.
Not only do they have individual parts and but also their rap break in the outro. Out of this trio, only Yonaga isn’t known for his rapping skills and he did impress.
Eguchi and Shirai were spitting fire from start to finish – nothing new here, as both are actually pretty good rappers -. The song wraps up with Kensho Ono tackling a steady long note. This is, hands down, one of IDOLiSH7‘s best songs to date.
9 – Everything is up to us
An acoustic guitar takes center stage as an old-school R&B beat joins in. In this cozy, almost intimate – even confessional – soundscape, each member of IDOLiSH7 joins in, adding a piece of their mind, sharing their feelings, and… then that pre-chorus arrives.
“Everything is up to us” has a beautiful pre-chorus and an unusual chorus. The pre-chorus is dreamy, with the soundscape far and wide.
The chorus goes in a slow-paced fashion, the soundscape is suddenly empty and it goes extremely fast. It’s almost like you’re left to fill it in with your feelings on top of the group’s surprisingly emotional verses.
This is the kind of chorus that feels more like an intermission to the powerful verses and honestly, I’m all for unique compositions and songs that play around with conventions so this is a sure-fire winner for me.
This is the calm after the storm. This is hope for a new beginning. This is pure passion.
“Everything is up to us” is all about simplicity and it is exactly what makes those feelings hit harder than you’d expect. Unusual composition on top of an outstanding performance by the group.
10 – ナナツイロ REALiZE
“Nanatsuiro REALiZE” is yet another entertaining upbeat tune done right for this group.
The instrumentalization is mostly bright, making great use of brass, simple and fun piano melodies, and washy synths to shape their sound into what turned out to be a song that will put a smile on your face.
The addition of rock elements (rather common on their songs although synths still reign in their instrumentals) this time around made the instrumental sound more polished and mature although with the same excitement IDOLiSH7 have used us to.
From the melodic guitar riffs to the sweet guitar solo, the groovy drums (simple but straight to the point), and the noticeable bass line, this instrumental managed to impress. And the same can be said about the vocal performances.
This song stands out from all others released up until now due to the simple fact that everyone sounds great.
The power vocal line – Toshiki Masuda, Atsushi Abe, and KENN – were joined by Kensho Ono, Tsubasa Yonaga, Takuya Eguchi, and Yusuke Shirai that upped their game, making it impossible to choose the best performer among them.
This is actually a fantastic thing as it now seems like everyone is on the same page. IDOLiSH7 gave a balanced and entertaining performance.
11 – Sakura Message
[As previously reviewed, do note the song was originally released in 2017]
“Sakura Message” is a breathtakingly beautiful ballad.
Whether it’s the delicate piano, the simple guitar riffs, the power chords provided by the guitar, or the bassy core of this song thanks to the bass and drums, every single thing in this instrumental was carefully crafted and put together to create this delicate and emotional instrumental.
The song might kick off in a rather slow, quiet way but it gradually grows its tension thanks in a big part to the vocal performances.
The emotions were on point for this song our only issue lies with Ono‘s erratic vocals.
As a center everything revolves around him, the main focus of the vocal performance lies in him, sadly there are times in which, in this song, he is pretty close to being off tune, especially during his solo parts.
This is a result of Ono – as Riku – having to perform in a range that is far from natural or comfortable for him.
Small hiccups on the vocals aside, the whole group performed this song in such a way that was incredibly easy to connect with the song.
Masuda and KENN‘s melodies, Shirai and Abe‘s powerful mid-tones plus Yonaga and Eguchi‘s fantastic teamwork were more than enough to showcase just how strong their vocal department is. “Sakura Message” is one of the best songs this unit has performed.
12 – THE POLiCY
Bubbly synth stabs set a playful tune to “THE POLiCY”, song that has a comfortable mid-tempo and a pretty unique structure. The verses have a duality to those, being split into parts that, in a way, tone down a bit of the tension in the track while leading the listener to its playful chorus.
There’s a focus on making the vocals stand out in that section and for that to happen, synths are toned down quite a bit. As a result, aside from the marimba-inspired synths, bassline, and simple beat, there’s not much going on in the verses.
The chorus does bring a couple of different things to the spotlight: the cheerful vibe to IDOLiSH7’s songs is still there however there’s a rather mature twist to it that comes as a surprise. At the same time, the vocals have vastly improved for the group and you can notice that in the harmonies as well as individual ad-libs going on.
This is one of those songs meant to put a smile on your face with its uplifting vibe and it suits perfectly with the summer season in which it was released.
On the vocals end, as I mentioned above, there are improvements to the individual skills, group harmonies, and overall flow to the parts.
It’s nice to have Tsubasa Yonaga sounding much better than in previous releases – he’s been recovering from dysphonia – and there’s a massive bump in the power for the MEZZO duo – Atsushi Abe and KENN – that is dazzling everyone with their harmonies and ad-libs in the background. Yusuke Shirai got a couple of parts that flirt with rap – it’s not really rapping although the speed would hint at it – and he pulls those off with a lot of flair.
Takuya Eguchi feeds off the energy in this track and really goes for a colorful performance, with his parts shining quite a lot.
The core to the group – Kensho Ono and Toshiki Masuda – is overflowing with energy not to mention that their dynamic sounds more natural this time around.
Addictive and fun, “THE POLiCY” is an awesome entry in the group’s repertoire.
13 – Everyday Yeah!
“Everyday Yeah!” greets the listener with calm acoustic guitars and a warm piano melody, slowly building up to the chorus, along the way picking up new elements that tastefully complement the track. Synths are minimal, mainly used to the buildup as well as to add a dreamy vibe to the track.
Drums are not at center stage but in the bridge – despite their impactful intro -, even in their muffled status, they come to add yet another groovy layer to this track. A nice addition – and a bit unexpected – to this track is the overdriven guitar soloing in the final chorus.
This track flows really well, not only within the release but also by itself. Its sweetness is intoxicating, enveloping the listener in its warmth and, even in its most upbeat moments, it is still a pretty laidback tune.
14 – PARTY TIME TOGETHER
[As previously reviewed, revised]
“Party Time Together” is all about being joyful and happy.
The song mixes synths with fast-paced drumming and strong guitar riffs to create an energetic, engaging instrumental to match the lyrics and hyped vocal performance.
Even if we have all these elements, the instrumental doesn’t stray far from its bright, happy-go-lucky vibe.
For this song, there were no issues with their vocals it was thanks to their energetic and bright vocal performance that we got this bundle of fun come to life. Although it pales in comparison to the quality of the other songs on this CD, this is still an enjoyable performance.
15 – DiSCOVER THE FUTURE
“DiSCOVER THE FUTURE” brings on the excitement of IDOLISH7’s songs but tones it down a little bit. Synths and strings coexist in this track, creating a tasteful base to the upbeat tune. The beat is simple and guitar riffs are emotional.
The verses mix classy strings – in legato – with a sweet piano melody, in a way being pretty quiet in comparison with the group’s previous releases.
A dramatic piano – going for those low notes -, muffled guitar riffs and a beat that slowly builds up into the chorus is present in the bridge, adding a nice touch to this track.
This is quite possibly the group’s best upbeat track to date. It is not overwhelming in the instruments it includes and how those are used, and the vocals sound gentle yet filled with hope and power. This is a really enjoyable entry in their repertoire.
IDOLiSH7’s 2nd full-length album “Opus” feels like a trip down memory lane while, at the same time, having a focus on the future.
That trip kicks off with “WiSH VOYAGE” and wraps up with “DiSCOVER THE FUTURE”, two songs that show how crafty the mastering of this album was, avoiding going through IDOLiSH7’s repertoire chronologically and, instead, creating a story with all the songs the group has released so far.
And while this is a fantastic thing to have in the album, it also comes with one disadvantage.
The songs that were performed around 2017 – when the group was far from sounding as in-tune and as in harmony as it does right now – sound a bit dated and break a bit the immersion or even the enjoyment you get from the songs.
Of course, for veteran fans/those following the group’s music for some time, that is not a big deal, as those changes are normal, part of the group’s growth.
However, for newcomers, those drastic changes in the singing – and even sound – quality can stand out as something odd (how the group performs extremely well in the new songs and not so much in the old ones) and even put some listeners on the fence about IDOLiSH7.
On my end, as someone following the group from around 2016, those changes are a result of growth. That has been noticeable in the past couple of CD releases. The group’s sound has matured, the members – individually as well as a unit – have improved a whole lot as singers, delivering performances that are simultaneously engaging and of high quality.
Following on the upbeat, hopeful vibe of “WiSH VOYAGE” comes “Boys & Girls”, a song that perfectly shows the growth the group has undergone.
There is still that happy-go-lucky, sweet idol pop sound to their music, however, matured. As a result, synths are not as big as in other songs in the group’s repertoire, with the instrumental being bassy yet subtle, putting the full focus on the vocals.
“Hatsukoi Rhythm” continues to be one of the best songs IDOLiSH7 has released so far. It is so warm, cozy, and intimate. It is a confession in the form of a song and a song that, easily stands out for the technical – and gentle – performances by all members.
“NAGISA Night Temperature” is one of the most recent songs released by the group and yet another one that showcases what this group is all about when their sound is funky – with a bit of R&B and soul influences in the mix – and the spotlight is put primarily on their vocals.
You have sweet unison parts, crafty – sometimes extremely technical – parts in the solo sections. Groovy, still incredibly playful as per IDOLiSH7 standards, this is easily one of my favorite songs of theirs and one of the highlights in this album.
The tension cranks up again for the high-octane EDM tune “Mr.AFFECTiON”.
This is quite the energizer of a song, having one of the most addictive piano melodies in the group’s repertoire. You can expect the vocals to pack the same intensity as the song and that chorus is a delight for fans of progressive – and melodic – EDM, packing a punch while being incredibly tasteful in its synth runs and powerful bassy beat.
“Dancing∞BEAT!!” continues to have one of the grooviest verses but its chorus and the “la la la” parts in the lyrics kind of kill the vibe for me. This is a song that is perfect for a live performance as it requires fans to join in and sing along. But on record, it sounds a bit pointless and can get tiring quite easily.
“Viva! Fantastic Life!!!!!!!” keeps those good vibes and groovy sound going as it brought to the spotlight – at the time the song was released – something completely new for the group in terms of sound and vocal performances. This is a song that will instantly put a smile on your face with its fun, upbeat sound and the vocals will make you want to stick around as those are among the best the group has delivered (so far).
“Everything is up to us” arrived as a surprise for me. Acoustic R&B and minimalistic electronica are two music genres this group has never explored before and to find those in the same song was already a surprise. Then comes the composition, with the pre-chorus having more importance than the chorus – this is rare.
The first 2 repetitions of the chorus are brief and empty, leaving the soundscape for the listener to fill in with their emotions for the group and the rollercoaster of a story they’ve recently gone through to be together yet again. The 3rd time the chorus arrives, Toshiki Masuda takes the lead, and… it is almost as if those emotions that were bottled in those “clouded” 2 chorus parts suddenly pour out. It can make one cry so be ready for it.
Sound and tone-wise, the transition to “Nanatsuiro REALiZE” is not the smoothest but taking into account the feelings in the previous song, this upbeat, happy sound is the perfect aftermath, carrying over that passion and those dreams as their flag.
Once again, another abrupt transition, this time from high-tension pop for a slow-paced, emotional ballad in “Sakura Message”.
This is one of the sweetest songs in the group’s repertoire and one that – in 2022 – would have heavily benefited from a re-recording (to cover for Kensho Ono’s wavering, almost off-tune vocals back in 2017, replacing those with Ono’s – now – total comfort performing as Riku). However, what listeners get is the same recording of the song as released in 2017, nothing changed. Still, this is one beautiful song that will make you cry as those feelings keep pouring down the emotional lyrics.
“THE POLiCY” tones things down a bit, once again embracing a subtle minimalistic EDM sound and presenting fans with a unique composition underneath the powerful and vibrato-filled vocals by the members.
“Everyday Yeah!” brings a sweet acoustic pop-rock sound to the spotlight, once again focusing on good and bad memories while looking at the future with hopeful, passionate eyes.
After an introspective tune comes “Party Time Together”, a song that cranks up the tension once again, focusing on putting a smile on the faces of IDOLiSH7’s fans. Fast and upbeat, this is a song that can be both an energizer and an energy drainer. You’ll want to sing along to this song, especially in the chorus.
“DiSCOVER THE FUTURE” wraps up “Opus” in the best note possible: with a positive and hopeful outlook for what the future holds for IDOLiSH7.
The last songs in this CD are an absolute emotional rollercoaster, with the vibe and feelings changing drastically between songs. This is, in a way, perfect to illustrate what the group has been through recently (in-game’s 4th story season), the passion for what they do as well as the sacrifices made to be where they are now.
When “Opus” wraps up you have, indeed, the group’s best album to date. One that illustrates the growth IDOLiSH7 has gone through in the last couple of years, looking fondly to those memories while with an optimistic outlook for the future.
“Opus” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.
“Opus” is available for streaming on Spotify.
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