Review | SparQlew “You’re My Valentine”

SparQlew You're My Valentine

SparQlew celebrates its 5th anniversary and Valentine’s Day with the stylish yet sentimental “You’re My Valentine”.

SparQlew "You're My Valentine"
Regular edition
Title: You’re My Valentine
Label: Kiramune
Release date: 14/02/2024
Genre: Pop/Citypop

Tracklist:

1. You’re My Valentine
2. Antitrust xx
3. ハジマリノソラ -5th Anniversary-

Track by track analysis:

1 – You’re My Valentine

SparQlew kicks off this single with “You’re My Valentine”, song that brings in a jaunty piano melody, playful brass, and laidback guitar riffs.

This song is more mellow than most of the songs released in the past two CDs, which is an interesting change of pacing.

The first thing that stood out to me was how bouncy this song is. The bassline is in the far back of the instrumental – with the piano and strings vying for your attention, each occupying different sides in the soundscape – but it shines.

You have a really groovy and bouncy vibe coming from it. It also arrives as a good contrast to the perky, upbeat vibe that the brass and even the vocals bring to the spotlight.

I find the high notes in the backing vocals to be a cool throwback to 70s and 80s pop music. To complement that, in the verses, you have the strings hits and even the brass add that, let’s say “retro” vibe to this song.

The vocals go quite high in the backing vocals but at front and center, the vocals by SparQlew are far from focusing on that. First off, this is a sweet pop tune that I believe, fans of the group’s debut sound will enjoy a lot.

But if that’s not really your thing – for example, for me it’s not – the group still approaches this song in a rather contained, mature way instead of the overly bubbly way they did back then so don’t worry.

As a result, this pop tune is fun and punchy – the bassline is pleasing, especially in the chorus – and the vocals are rather entertaining. This is not really my type of song but I still found it to be an enjoyable listen.

2. Antitrust xx

Things change around for “Antitrust XX” (read: Antitrust Kiss) as SparQlew goes all out on those citypop vibes and delivers one of their most aesthetically pleasing soundscapes

Expect wah-wah guitar riffs, rhodes piano melodies that add an intimate vibe to this song, funky guitar riffs that feel like we’re gazing at the sun setting.

Leading the way is the groovy bassline that is there to flesh out those bouncy, feel-good vibes you get from this song. (Also, a good citypop song starts with an amazing bassline. SparQlew certainly checked that box well for me.)

The verses are loungy and feel intimate with the rhodes piano melodies draping the curtains in this stylish soundscape. At the same time, funky guitar riffs play on your right side as the synths are on your left and back.

And the chorus of “Antitrust XX”… well, close your eyes and let yourself join that dreamy soundscape. Really. Enjoy it.

At the same time, you will have crazy synth runs, fancy piano melodies, and even an awesome keytar solo. That solo! Oh, that solo! Oh boy. I wanted more.

It arrived at just the right time, unleashed all the tension building up in this song, and went way as fast as it arrived.

I was expecting it to go from the keytar to the funky guitars – having a double solo – to crank up the excitement to the max and sound even more stylish but it was already pretty awesome.

Another thing I wholly appreciate about this song is just how cohesive SparQlew is singing. They have been showing just how in sync they are – and how awesomely they have been linking up – and this performance only reinforces this.

I also noticed that – intended or not – SparQlew’s members have voice tones that really shine in songs with this laidback, groovy, and almost city pop-inspired sound. Their vocals are sweet but not overly powerful, which fits well with this sound.

In case it wasn’t obvious by now, “Antitrust XX” instantly turned into my favorite song on this CD.

3. ハジマリノソラ -5th Anniversary-

“Hajimari no Sora” gets a special rearrangement for SparQlew’s 5th anniversary. Remember the original’s upbeat pop-rock sound? And how it almost sounded like a Sentai series’ theme song?

Well, this version has a unique take on the original song, and… fans get a massive upgrade in terms of quality – both instrumental and vocals.

The tempo has slowed down, strings joined in legato in the background and a piano adds a beautiful twist to this song. The intro, by itself, is already a big change in comparison to the original.

As the song progresses to the first verse, you will be expecting that explosive rock sound to kick in but what you get is an extension of that delicate, strings-driven sound.

When it comes to the chorus, I feel it is more self-contained and focused on the vocals. This is something I appreciate a lot. The focus is taken away from the instrumental and you have SparQlew shining on stage. It feels good.

I love that the chorus introduces brass, acoustic guitars, and a surprisingly punchy bassline. But then again, it is Arte Refact’s Yuki Honda behind the composition of this song so, of course, it is a song with a rich bassline.

For this version, of course, the vocals had to be re-recorded to make up for the lines that Shoya Chiba – who has long graduated from the group and made his solo debut – left open for the group to perform.

As a result, the song brings forth a different dynamic on the vocals, paired up with an obvious improvement in their singing qualities as a group since their debut.

Comparing this song to the original, I enjoyed much more this version. The group sounds more mature, confident, and passionate about their performance. And I feel that this rearrangement only upgraded the song as a whole.

Solid wrap-up to this CD and a good way to celebrate such an important milestone as their 5th anniversary.


Final considerations

SparQlew pulled off a 2-in-1 with “You’re My Valentine”, celebrating both Valentine’s Day and their 5th anniversary as a group.

This ended up being a really sweet gift to their fans, one in which you got to revisit, in a way, their sound from back then as well as experience their mature, citypop-driven sound and even a blast from the past with a gentle rearrangement.

As you may have noticed, I’ve enjoyed a whole love “Antitrust XX”. This is a song that goes in line with what the group has been releasing in the past 3 – 4 CDs and is within the mature, stylish, and more “masculine” vibe they’ve had since “Daybreak“.

I’m in love with this style and sound of theirs and just like I wrote above, their sweet vocals suit it really well. I had a blast with this song and, as I’m writing this part, I have it looping in the background.

But let’s not forget the title track “You’re My Valentine” which is a sweet pop tune that has a subdued bubbly vibe to itself. While I’m not fond of bubbly pop music – or even a subdued bubbly vibe – I still enjoyed this tune a lot. The chorus stays with you and the vocals are genuinely pleasing to listen to.

If you love the bubbly type of pop tunes – dripping in a sweet tone – then this one is going to be a treat for you.

And wrapping up is “Hajimari no Sora”, now in its rearrangement.

Now, let’s clear some things. This is a song that I haven’t listened to for a long time. The original song was the one that made me avoid reviewing music by SparQlew when the group started (as I’m not fond of sentai-style music or even bubbly tunes).

So I really didn’t know what to expect from this rearrangement but seeing as other Kiramune artists have had amazing rearrangements in their CDs as of late, I wanted at least an improvement over the original.

And that’s what we got in here. At least, for me, this rearrangement is a big improvement. The group has improved a lot on the vocals – which they have been showing in the most recent CDs – and they had a new dynamic in here with Shoya Chiba no longer present to perform this song.

Honestly, the CD couldn’t have ended on a more nostalgic and sweet note than with the rearrangement of “Hajimari no Sora”. While still not one of my favorite songs – and perhaps a song I won’t return to – I still had an awesome time with it.

All in all, SparQlew celebrates its 5th anniversary and Valentine’s Day with a sweet and nostalgic single that feels good at all times.


You’re My Valentine is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.


You’re My Valentine” is available for streaming on Spotify.


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

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

You’re My Valentine
Antitrust xx
ハジマリノソラ -5th Anniversary-

SUMMARY

SparQlew pulled off a 2-in-1 with "You're My Valentine", celebrating both Valentine's Day and their 5th anniversary as a group. This ended up being a really sweet gift to their fans, one in which you got to revisit, in a way, their sound from back then as well as experience their mature, citypop-driven sound and even a blast from the past with a gentle rearrangement. SparQlew celebrates its 5th anniversary and Valentine's Day with a sweet and nostalgic single that feels good at all times.

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SparQlew pulled off a 2-in-1 with "You're My Valentine", celebrating both Valentine's Day and their 5th anniversary as a group. This ended up being a really sweet gift to their fans, one in which you got to revisit, in a way, their sound from back then as well as experience their mature, citypop-driven sound and even a blast from the past with a gentle rearrangement. SparQlew celebrates its 5th anniversary and Valentine's Day with a sweet and nostalgic single that feels good at all times.Review | SparQlew "You're My Valentine"