Review | Takuya Eguchi “EGURand”

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Deeply flawed yet with some good ideas and highlights at its core, “EGURand” is a positive step towards Takuya Eguchi finding his identity as a solo artist.

Regular
Title: EGURand
Label: Kiramune
Release date: 27/04/2022
Genre: Pop/EDM/Rock/Acoustic/Citypop

Tracklist:

1 - AGARISM
2 - カレパ!
3 - PAPER BOY
4 - Break of Day
5 - SŌIUMONDA
6 - HRC
7 - Lonely Darling

Track by track analysis:

1 – AGARISM

A fast-paced beat and exciting guitar riffs open the curtains for “AGARISM”. This is the type of song that you won’t even notice it flew by you in an instant.  

The tempo is high, the energy overflows, and the good vibes pour out of the instrumental that mixes rock with pop and electronica in an intense, energetic display. This is a brief song in which verses and chorus flow naturally and shift incredibly fast between each other.

There is a call and response part in the bridge, something I believe will be a hit with fans in a live setting. It doesn’t drag for long, something that, for a change, is rather nice to find.

When it comes to the performance, Takuya Eguchi is overflowing with energy. That is noticeable in the way he performs the song – always upbeat and uptempo – as well as the technique he uses – the high notes and falsetto. 

When “AGARISM” wraps up, you are either left energized and ready for more, or you’ll be left needing to rest a bit. Either way, you’ll be with a smile on your face.

2 – カレパ!

“Karepa” (or Curry Paradise) brings to the spotlight a hard dance sound that is a first for Takuya Eguchi. 

This song kind of plays around with your expectations as a listener. At least it did play around with mine with its intro. The dirty synths in the intro and its build-up were giving strong hints of this song going to be a full-on trap song however… it isn’t. If only it had been.

This has a strong EDM pop sound, perfectly made for the dancefloor. It is loud, the synths are overwhelming – but not in a good way – and its intensity can rub some people off in a wrong way. 

While the verses are really fun and have a stylish vibe, the chorus is absolutely dreadful. It lacks clarity, it is really loud in comparison to the vocals, and it sounds like a fever dream, but with the tension heightened to a crazy level that is not comfortable. It may click with you if you love high tension EDM music but to me is just… noise.

Also, do know that this is a song about… eating curry. Yes, you read it well. This is a song not to be taken seriously, at least not lyrics-wise. I find it funny how intense love for food can be put into music form.

Just like the instrumental, Eguchi’s performance is all about being loud and intense at all times, with complete disregard for technique, consistency, and control. While this is not a bad performance of his, its sloppy nature and delivery leave a lot to be desired.

3 – PAPER BOY

“PAPER BOY” follows up and brings a simple brand of rock, much in the style that you can find in Eguchi’s debut mini-album “EGUISM”. 

The bass work for this song is insane, with the bassline being the driving force for this song, punching its way through the hard-hitting snary drums and shredding guitar riffs. 

The verses are slow-paced however do expect the tension and tempo to rise in the chorus, with the guitars and drums going wild as Takuya Eguchi blasts his mid-toned vocals with a raw twist on top.

This is a song that brings out a dirty guitar solo in the bridge with quite the haunting vocal part following it, something that arrived as a wicked combo leading up to the last chorus and outro.

On the vocal end, you can expect to find Takuya Eguchi delivering a comfortable performance riding on top of his mid-toned vocals while tapping into his low tenor/baritone range. 

There is consistency in his performance. What I find curious though is the way he tackles his higher notes: it is not necessarily screaming but it is not also a clean way to achieve those, which leaves me thinking whether it was deliberate or not.

In lack of confirmation in either way, I’ll say I like the flair he gave to his vocals in “PAPER BOY”, adding some fragility to what is a rather intense and hard-hitting rock tune.

4 – Break of Day

Break of Day” brings back a danceable, high tempo to the spotlight. The sound in the verses and chorus is quite consistent in tone and intensity, with you barely noticing the transition between both.

The instrumental has an acoustic touch to itself, bringing a subtle Latin vibe to this song. The dreamy electric guitar chords and strings in the background plus the atmospheric synths create a wide soundscape with a summery vibe that is inviting.

The chorus is once again quite intense in its instrumental and quite dull in its lyrics, repeating itself over and over again. This may work fairly well in a live setting – for a call and response part with the public, for example – but on recording, it gets boring to listen to the words “Break of Day” over and over and over and over again. 

On a good note, I love the bridge with the acoustic guitar and dreamy pitch vocals in the background as Takuya Eguchi smoothly leads the way with his passionate performance.

This is a song that puts on Takuya Eguchi in the spotlight with a performance that taps into his clean singing, narration parts – that doesn’t sound cheesy – as well as fast-paced rapping.

This is quite an interesting performance from him, finally bringing some of his versatility to the forefront while keeping things relatively simple.

However, the instrumental puts the spotlight in all the wrong places, stealing it from what is a really good performance by Eguchi.

5 – SŌIUMONDA

Changing gears, “SŌIUMONDAarrives with a nostalgic, groovy sound with vinyl noise on top. The stage is set in a retro soundscape with neon lights in the distance.

The verses are groovy, led by a punchy bassline while a rhodes piano sets an elegant vibe to this track. The beat is fun and simple, adding a comfortable mid-tempo to this track. 

As you listen to this song, the influences of citypop in it get more obvious. From the choices of synths, to the chord sequences, the mix with funky guitar riffs, and groovy basslines, this song is really keen on its fun and stylish citypop sound.

The chorus is catchy and tasteful at all times, bringing the best of the instrumental and Takuya Eguchi’s vocals to the spotlight, taking you to the dancefloor.

Worth mentioning the awesome work on the guitar end with a solo that brought blues and funk influences into this song. Although the bassline is the star of this show, the guitars aren’t far behind in their quality.

On the vocal end, Takuya Eguchi brings an entertaining performance with a cool edge that I find quite interesting. While the song rises in intensity, his vocals don’t. He stays calm and controlled at all times, even when he raps. I found this to be charming in a track such as this one.

6 – HRC

A dirty bassline leads the way for “HRC”, song that goes absolutely bonkers from the very first second into it. 

Yes, this is a hard-hitting, fast-paced rock tune, nothing like what Takuya Eguchi had in his repertoire up until now.

This is the type of song that metalheads are going to love, a song that shows how Eguchi can easily keep up with such an intense sound and deliver a perfect performance on top.

The verses are all about speed, with an insane bassline and maniacally fast guitar riffs leading the way. The drums are splashy yet with a big focus on a hard-hitting snare and fast double bass work, something that ends up impressing as the drums never take a break throughout the song.

When you get to the chorus the speed cranks up, guitars go loud and technical and the vocals demand the listener’s participation (headbanging or shouting along).

The guitar solo is so good – a pity it is so brief – with the right amount of tension and perfect release, taking you to the last chorus in a fantastic fashion.

As far as vocals go, Eguchi showcased lots of control, never missed a beat or sounded out-of-place and, in a way, I love how natural it felt when he says “Thank you for the meal” as the song wraps up. 

You can feel this is quite the draining song to perform – and he absolutely nailed it – but that extra bit (unexpected) with him thanking and sighing in relief is quite comical yet a good illustration of how difficult the song is to perform.

Now, this was a pleasant surprise.

7 – Lonely Darling

Lonely Darling arrives with a laidback acoustic pop-rock sound, creating a cozy soundscape that closes this mini-album in the perfect tone.

The verses are slow-paced and minimalistic however there is a duality to them. For the very first part, the verses are quiet, leaving the spotlight all on the vocals as only acoustic guitars, a punchy bassline, and a simple beat paint the background. 

Then the 2nd part of the verses is more intense, bringing in electric guitars and bright piano – yet slightly melancholic – melodies to the spotlight. Those carry you over to the chorus, which completely changes the dynamic of this song. 

When you get to the chorus, the soundscape gets wider yet still consistently warm and cozy, following the nostalgic lyrics. In the background, the guitars crank up those feelings, screaming however in a rather subdued way.

This is the kind of song that I feel perfectly captures Takuya Eguchi’s essence.

The laidback vibe, the warm and friendly tone – yet with some shyness in its presentation – and the “my pace” tempo in the song are all characteristics that perfectly capture who Eguchi is as an individual – not necessarily as a solo artist – at least for the public. 

And that was captured by Soma Saito, the composer, and lyricist for this song and a close friend/kouhai of Eguchi. 

When you listen to this song and get all those feelings from this song, you have to realize that only someone really close to Eguchi or a fantastic songwriter could pull off composing a song that is, in essence, that person themselves in song format.

As a result, Takuya Eguchi’s performance is the most natural you can have. It is laidback, feels closer to the heart, and is, ultimately, quite fun without being over-the-top in its intensity.

Awesome way to wrap up this mini-album.


Final considerations:

Takuya Eguchi is back after a couple of months since his debut mini-album “EGUISM”, easily one of the best releases in 2021.

So the expectations were insanely high for “EGURand”.

Adding to that was the announcement of renowned Arte Refact composers Yuki Honda and Taishi Kawai as well as fellow seiyuu and singer-songwriter Soma Saito in the composition credits of some of the songs in “EGURand”.

Expectations soared with those announcements.

So, after listening to “EGURand”… were those expectations met?

Unfortunately, not.

“EGURand” doesn’t feel nor sound like an upgrade over the flawless “EGUISM”

It is far more eclectic in its sound – and thus more inconsistent in its sound and performances – as well as more generic in its presentation.

PAPER BOY”, “SŌIUMONDA”, “HRC” and “Lonely Darling” are, easily, the best songs in this mini-album, one that has a really weak first half but wraps up with a strong 2nd half, more laidback (a bit crazy at times), introspective and mature, characteristics that suit Takuya Eguchi’s skillset quite well.

For those that like high tension, crazy EDM, and pop music, there are plenty of tracks catering to your tastes, with Eguchi making sure that not only you get an energy boost but also a wide smile plastered on your face.

On my end, I feel like those are the songs that ended up showcasing weaknesses in Eguchi’s vocals, something that shouldn’t even be raised as an issue as Eguchi is, usually, a stable singer.

In those EDM songs, he sounds on the verge of his voice cracking or is screaming the notes instead of comfortably singing those and, probably, raising his tone to hit the key he wanted. Those were really sloppy performances – some quite possibly intentional – that don’t put a good spotlight on Eguchi’s technique and quality as a singer.

Are those songs fun? Depending on what you enjoy listening to, those can be fun. But those are far from illustrating Eguchi’s talents.

There is one thing in which “EGURand” is better than “EGUISM and that is in the fact that there is a focus on showcasing Takuya Eguchi’s versatility as a singer, bringing in clean singing, rapping, and even narration to the mix. 

That was something that seriously lacked in “EGUISM”, a mini-album that played really safe in its sound and performances, so it was pretty nice to find it here. A pity that it happened in a mini-album that is quite flawed, not providing the perfect setting for his vocals.

All in all, “EGURand” is a victim of the insane expectations set on it by Kiramune. 

Deeply flawed yet with awesome ideas at its core, this is an important step in Takuya Eguchi’s career that is perfect to hone his sound and approach to music for hereon, something that makes me quite excited for what is to come. I’m sure he’ll finally find his identity as a solo artist and surprise everyone with his next CD release.


EGURand is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.


“EGURand” is available for streaming on Spotify.


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

REVIEW OVERVIEW

AGARISM
カレパ!
PAPER BOY
Break of Day
SŌIUMONDA
HRC
Lonely Darling

SUMMARY

"EGURand" fails to match its insanely high expectations. This is a deeply flawed mini-album with some good ideas at its core that got a poor execution and some moments of brilliance found in "SŌIUMONDA", "HRC" and "Lonely Darling". The first half of the mini-album is a rollercoaster in terms of quality and tone, not setting itself for only one thing. That's how you have a wide variety of music genres covered in that part and a couple of weird performances on top. But starting from the 2nd half of the mini-album, things change. Consistency in sound takes over, quality in the instrumentals and compositions that make sense - making an impact without being needlessly loud and over-the-top - are common, not to mention that listeners get to listen to performances that highlight Takuya Eguchi's versatility as a singer. Now with 2 mini-albums released and with different reactions to both, Takuya Eguchi has in his hands the power to choose his identity as a solo artist, the sound and tone of his music from now on. Even if "EGURand" is deeply flawed, listeners will easily notice that there are good ideas in there. Not only that but Takuya Eguchi is yet to feel comfortable as a solo artist, leaving behind him the quirks of performing character songs to adopt a singing style that is his as a solo artist. It'll be curious to see what he does from hereon but for sure we will all see (and hear) improvements in the next release.
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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"EGURand" fails to match its insanely high expectations. This is a deeply flawed mini-album with some good ideas at its core that got a poor execution and some moments of brilliance found in "SŌIUMONDA", "HRC" and "Lonely Darling". The first half of the mini-album is a rollercoaster in terms of quality and tone, not setting itself for only one thing. That's how you have a wide variety of music genres covered in that part and a couple of weird performances on top. But starting from the 2nd half of the mini-album, things change. Consistency in sound takes over, quality in the instrumentals and compositions that make sense - making an impact without being needlessly loud and over-the-top - are common, not to mention that listeners get to listen to performances that highlight Takuya Eguchi's versatility as a singer. Now with 2 mini-albums released and with different reactions to both, Takuya Eguchi has in his hands the power to choose his identity as a solo artist, the sound and tone of his music from now on. Even if "EGURand" is deeply flawed, listeners will easily notice that there are good ideas in there. Not only that but Takuya Eguchi is yet to feel comfortable as a solo artist, leaving behind him the quirks of performing character songs to adopt a singing style that is his as a solo artist. It'll be curious to see what he does from hereon but for sure we will all see (and hear) improvements in the next release. Review | Takuya Eguchi "EGURand"