Review | Marginal #4 “HAPPY ROLL”

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Marginal #4

Marginal #4 embraces 80s and 90s pop music and changes its singing style to deliver a refreshing and tasteful new single with “HAPPY ROLL”.

Marginal #4 consists of Yuto Suzuki, Naozumi Takahashi, KENN, and Toshiki Masuda.

Review

Marginal #4's HAPPY ROLL
Title: Pythagoras Production Shining Stage Vol.4 Marginal #4
Label: Tsukipro/Movic 
Release date: 14/02/2022
Genre: Pop/Dance

Tracklist:

1 - HAPPY ROLL
2 - Rise Up
3 - Original drama

Track by track analysis:

1 – HAPPY ROLL

Marginal #4 explores a groovy sound with strong 90s pop vibes in “HAPPY ROLL”. This is the first time the group embraces a sound as playful and cool at the same time, going all out in those retro vibes.

As soon as the song kicks off, a jolly piano melody will stand out to you. This is the main theme in the song, being used throughout the song alongside a punchy bassline and funky guitar riffs.

The verses are overflowing with good vibes, with the bassline and synths being prominent, creating a bouncy, danceable sound.

I really love the instrumental in “HAPPY ROLL” because those fancy synth stabs are so tasteful, bringing a bit of 80s nostalgia to this track.

The chorus is, easily, the catchiest in Marginal #4’s repertoire. Not only are the lyrics quite smooth and with a genuinely good flow, but the whole instrumental in the chorus is a delight to listen to.

Really, if by the time the chorus hits you’re still not jamming along to this track, then something is wrong. The instrumental is tasteful and quite addictive.

As far as the vocal performances go, with a renewed sound come different styles of performances. And that is exactly what Marginal #4’s fans get. The group is focused on a groovy, riff-heavy still of singing, putting almost completely aside from their unisons. And there is rapping going on in the middle of the clean singing, which is a first.

But not everything is new and old-school fans will love to find some fanservice midway through the song. If you actually cringe at that, do know that, in comparison to all singles prior to this one, the fanservice in “HAPPY ROLL” is kept to a bare minimum, making this song delightful to listen to.

2 – Rise Up

Things change around for “Rise Up”, with Marginal #4 embracing a darker and dirtier sound

One thing that will instantly stand out in this song is how EDM, pop and rock coexist. 

The song kicks off with dirty synths slowly creeping their way through the instrumental. As the song progresses, overdriven guitars join in the background and a slow snary beat slowly comes from the background to lead the way.

“Rise Up” is a fancy EDM-pop tune with a cool rock edge. And while this may seem like a generic description, believe me, this is far from sounding like a generic song.

The chorus to this song is incredibly catchy and before you know it, you’ll be shouting along “Rise Up, Rise Up!” and jamming along to the guitar solo that usually follows that part. 

It is a genuinely fun song, yet again with a tasteful approach to pop and, this time, EDM music, opting for a softer sound – despite how dirty the synths initially are – while straying away from messy, overly intense, and high pitched melodies. 

You still get a dancefloor-driven tune to enjoy however not with the cheesy or generic bits that Marginal #4 used to have in their EDM songs.

This is a big upgrade on Marginal #4’s side.

On the vocal end, expect Toshiki Masuda to tap both into his natural baritone range as well as a little bit into faux bass – especially noticeable in the verses -, something that ends up adding a unique twist to the performance as a whole.

In the verses, all members seem to be in the groove, delivering an upbeat, highly entertaining set of performances that culminate in a powerful and extremely catchy chorus.

Awesome dance tune that shows that less is more.


Final considerations

A change in composers has given a new life to Marginal #4, group that had been slowly changing its image and sound in the last couple of CDs.

Now, it is safe to say that their attempts at a more mature sound and image were accomplished as “HAPPY ROLL” is a CD filled with tasteful pop songs with nods to the 80s and 90s while approaching those from a more serious prism. That has made it so that all songs are incredibly addictive without being cheesy – a massive plus – while having a mature approach to the lyrics.

That was something that lacked in previous releases and that now, with MIKOTO’s departure as their composer, has finally been achieved.

Marginal #4 no longer has the same old synth-heavy sound of its debut, now exploring other sides of pop music while retaining their same identity – noticeable in the vocals mixing, progressions, and even the now subtle unisons.

Usually, Marginal #4 would have either of those music genres, barely mixing elements of each. 

When it was EDM, it was full-on EDM. When it was pop, it was full-on cheesy bubbly pop – with some good exceptions there. When it was rock, it was never a full-on rock sound but more a pop-rock style.

In “Rise Up”, fans get a hybrid EDM-pop sound that has a good rock balance in itself. This is the style of song that tastefully uses EDM, bringing it addictive beats and synth leads, adds some sprinkles of addictive pop choruses and catchy lyrics, and then puts a rock edge on top with well-timed guitar solos and riffs.

Listening to “Rise Up” you can easily notice that this is a mature approach to pop music as a whole for Marginal #4. The cheesy bits the group was still carrying in its sound – you can argue those were a charming point or not – are no longer noticeable in this song. 

As far as vocal performances go, both songs delivered something new from Marginal #4’s members. You have rap and clean singing in “HAPPY ROLL” and in “Rise Up”, each member had a little bit more freedom to do their own thing and that’s why you find Toshiki Masuda delivering quite the complete performance tapping in both his baritone and faux bass vocal ranges, all while the rest of the group was either harmonizing or delivering their melodic solo parts.

I thoroughly enjoyed what I listened to in “HAPPY ROLL” – the single – as it is a positive step forward for Marginal #4, group celebrating its 9th anniversary in 2022. 

More mature and funkier than ever, Marginal #4 delivers an addictive pop single with “HAPPY ROLL”.


Pythagoras Production Shining Stage Vol.4 Marginal #4” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.


REVIEW OVERVIEW

HAPPY ROLL
Rise Up

SUMMARY

Marginal #4 makes a comeback with a completely new revamped pop sound with nods to the 80s and 90s. There is now a mature sound and vibe consistent across all songs, which was seriously lacking from the group since its debut. From start to finish, "HAPPY ROLL" is a delightful and fun CD, a perfect entry in Marginal #4's repertoire that shows that sometimes going back to the whiteboard and idealizing a new sound - still respecting the group's identity - is a good idea. The vocals have a couple of exciting surprises that ended up showcasing more of the vocal range that each member has. All in all, Marginal #4's "HAPPY ROLL" may go under the radar for most people but it is easily one of the most exciting and tasteful pop releases of the year.
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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Marginal #4 makes a comeback with a completely new revamped pop sound with nods to the 80s and 90s. There is now a mature sound and vibe consistent across all songs, which was seriously lacking from the group since its debut. From start to finish, "HAPPY ROLL" is a delightful and fun CD, a perfect entry in Marginal #4's repertoire that shows that sometimes going back to the whiteboard and idealizing a new sound - still respecting the group's identity - is a good idea. The vocals have a couple of exciting surprises that ended up showcasing more of the vocal range that each member has. All in all, Marginal #4's "HAPPY ROLL" may go under the radar for most people but it is easily one of the most exciting and tasteful pop releases of the year.Review | Marginal #4 "HAPPY ROLL"