Sir Vanity‘s “midnight sun” showcases the band’s versatility in exploring different sonorities within rock music while delivering a set of perfect performances.
Title: midnight sun Label: VANITY RECORDS Release date: 08/03/2023 Genre: Alt-Rock/Funk-rock/Acid-jazz
1 - Dawn (lyrics by Yoshiki Nakajima) 2 - 透明なわたし (lyrics by Taisei) 3 - 桜、猫、電車 (lyrics by Yuichiro Umehara) 4 - 一日の終わりに (lyrics by Yoshiki Nakajima)
Track by track analysis:
1 – Dawn
Funky guitar riffs kick open the doors for “Dawn”. The intro has quite the quirky, almost playful, twist to itself, sounding groovier than what the rest of the song actually is.
The verses are mid-tempo, led by the pounding drums and punchy bassline, comfortably creating a soundscape in which the guitar and piano can have a blast.
In these quieter parts, there are opportunities for each guitar to shine, adding little, distant details to this song. In the background, a bright piano melody adds a layer of beauty and fragility to “Dawn”. And then comes that punchy, low bassline grooving its way through the instrumental.
A screaming guitar marks the entrance of the emotional chorus in which guitars blast through, drums are splashy yet contained while the piano takes the lead alongside the guitars.
Yoshiki Nakajima and Yuichiro Umehara go for an emotional performance riding on top of their mid-toned vocals. There aren’t any fancy things going on on the vocal end but this simplicity works wonders with such a complex instrumental.
What fans come across in “Dawn” is a powerful rock tune that is not afraid to be delicate and fragile at the same time.
2 – 透明なわたし (Toumei na Watashi)
“Toumei na watashi” changes things around and brings a stylish, funky sound that Sir Vanity hadn’t explored so far.
The verses are dreamy, with a rhodes piano leading the way as a groovy bassline and snary drums lead the way. The soundscape is warm and elegant, almost ethereal. It is pure acid-jazz rock taking the stage and I’m all in for it!
While the verses have a slightly decadent vibe – from the jazz influences of the rhodes piano -, they also have a playful and fun edge to them coming from the funky guitar riffs and punchy bassline.
The transition to the chorus is smooth and stylish, putting the bassline at front and center, adding a lot of bounce to this tune.
Vocally, Yoshiki Nakajima goes for a ridiculously good performance that taps into his tenor vocal range. From his warm mid-tones in the verses to the head voice, reaching those high notes in the chorus, he was shining.
Similarly, Yuichiro Umehara shows a groovy side to himself with a performance that exudes a mature vibe. He goes both to his sweet mid-tones as well as brings with him growly bass vocals.
When the chorus arrives, they are harmonizing, creating a unique blend of tenor and faux bass vocals that is a delight to listen to.
“Toumei na Watashi” is ethereal throughout, creating a dreamy soundscape you don’t want to wake up from.
3 – 桜、猫、電車 (Sakura, Neko, Densha)
“Sakura, neko, densha” embraces an indie-rock sound, kicking off with Yuichiro Umehara on vocals, slowly telling you the story written by himself.
The 1st verse is unplugged, with overdriven guitar riffs serving as the backdrop as Umehara dramatically approaches the performance and the piano adds a delicate layer to the instrumental.
However, as the intro wraps up, Yoshiki Nakajima joins in on vocals and guitar, bringing the whole band with him.
And the vibe to this song changes completely
The bridge is incredibly stylish with the piano bringing a bit of jazz into this song while the bassline punches its way through the instrumental, complemented by the bass-driven drums.
Taking the center stage are the guitars that go for an emotional – albeit brief – solo leading up to the final part of this song.
Now, one thing you will have noticed is that “Sakura, neko, densha” doesn’t have a traditional rock song structure. It has a long – 1 minute and 36 seconds long – intro, goes to the first verse in there, has 1 chorus and an outro that makes the song come full circle, wrapping up as it started.
This is unusual but such a nice surprise that completely messes up with the listener’s expectations when listening to rock music. The lack of that traditional song structure makes this song quite quirky yet, at the same time, stand out in this mini-album.
4 – 一日の終わりに (Ichinichi no owari ni)
“Ichinichi no owari ni” closes off this mini-album with a youthful, hopeful rock sound.
The verses have a good balance between the powerful guitar riffs and low, punchy bassline and the hopeful, bright piano melodies.
This creates a comfortable, warm sound that puts you at ease but also makes you want to sing along to this song.
While you may expect the chorus to arrive in a powerful way, it is actually quite the smooth transition between verses and chorus. You will barely notice the rise in tension in there, with only the vocals indicating that you just arrived at the chorus.
Now, when it comes to the bridge, let me tell you, the dual guitar solo is ridiculously good and makes me want to watch Umehara and Nakajima playing it. It is technical and cool all in the right measures.
As far as the vocals go, I’ll add that I love how both went on for that falsetto in the chorus, ramping up the emotions for a wonderful climax in the outro.
When “Ichinichi no owari ni” wraps up, you’ll be with a massive grin on your face and a sense of having listened to quite possibly, one of the best albums of 2023.
Sir Vanity is just too good at the moment, isn’t it?
Well, I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, they are the band of the moment in the seiyuu industry and have the potential to be much more than that.
And if what you get to listen to in “midnight sun” is an indication of anything is that the band is overflowing with creativity and is not even close to having tapped into its true potential (and they already sound this good).
It is hard to choose a highlight in this mini-album as “midnight sun” is a highlight reel in itself. All songs explore different sonorities within rock music, sometimes venturing to hard rock, others to acid-jazz or even funk, but always making sure fans notice just how creative and versatile they are.
I love the small details in the mixing so let’s talk a bit about those.
In “Dawn”, you have a chorus performed simultaneously by Yoshiki Nakajima and Yuichiro Umehara.
Most mixers for seiyuu artists and 2D groups would overlap the vocals at the front and center for unison.
And that would sound murky or even take the spotlight away from the individual vocals as you would, most likely, have difficulty telling apart any details any of them would add to their performances.
In this case, the mixer chose to put Nakajima on your left and Umehara to your right, with them harmonizing in the chorus. Those harmonies will appear at the front and center, where the vocals clash while making sure each singer is clear and clean at all times on their sides in the mix.
This is really how a good mix is done when there is more than one vocalist. Even performing at the same time, you can have clarity in the vocals, making it easy to enjoy both at the same time.
And with the quality that Yoshiki Nakajima brings not to mention how powerful and confident Yuichiro Umehara has turned into in the past couple of releases by Sir Vanity, it was a treat to listen to “Dawn”.
Similarly, in “Toumei na watashi”, the voice mix in the chorus is ridiculously good.
Yoshiki Nakajima taps into his tenor range and brings out his head voice high notes and falsetto while, at the same time, Yuichiro Umehara goes low on his vocal range, embracing tapping into bass vocal range territory to create a mesmerizing contrast in the chorus. It is stylish, well done, and yet again puts the spotlight on both vocals.
Then we have the unique song structure in “Sakura, neko, densha”. This song doesn’t follow a traditional song structure, something that is perfect to grab your attention.
Having listened to hours and hours of rock music, you’ll be conditioned to expect a traditional style of composition for rock music that features multiple verses and choruses however what Sir Vanity brings to you is quite fancy.
It has a long – 1 minute and 36 seconds long – intro, goes to the first verse in there, has 1 chorus and an outro that makes the song come full circle, wrapping up as it started.
This structure allows for more experimentation with the instrumental itself as well as the lyrics and I can safely say that it turned out really well.
I was in awe as the song kicked off and wrapped up with Yuichiro Umehara’s emotional performance accompanied by emo-rock, overdriven slow guitar riffs in the background.
All in all, I only have praise for this mini-album.
It is an understatement to say that they are the most exciting rock outfit fronted by male seiyuu. Sir Vanity has slowly appeared, let their unique, emotional rock sound speak for itself, and added a lot of attitude and groove paired up with lyrics that are quite poetical at times.
I’m particularly impressed with how much they have grown between CD releases. Their rock sound doesn’t sound dull, their performances are varied and dynamic, and their chemistry as singers as well as guitarists shows in their performances.
Everything about Sir Vanity is too perfect right now that, in a way, it is kind of scary (in a good way).
I wonder how much this band can grow in upcoming album releases but for sure they will continue to impress with their rich and emotional rock sound and strong performances.
As “midnight sun” wraps up, it immediately goes to the list of best releases in 2023 and is a strong candidate as the best album of the year.
“midnight sun” is unavailable for purchase at CDJAPAN. You can purchase the CD at Amazon Japan (ships internationally).
“midnight sun” is available for streaming on Spotify.
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