Tasuku Hatanaka rises up to the challenge, venturing towards 80s inspired EDM territory, delivering a masterful set of performances in “TWISTED HEARTS“.
Title: TWISTED HEARTS Label: Lantis Release date: 28/04/2021 Genre: Synthpop / EDM / Acoustic
１- TWISTED HEARTS
２- Moment For Life
４- TWISTED HEARTS (Instrumental)
５- Moment For Life (Instrumental)
６- 風を作る (Instrumental)
Track by track analysis:
1 – TWISTED HEARTS
Solemn strings slowly open the curtains for “TWISTED HEARTS” song that explores something I wasn’t expecting at all: 80s synthpop is at the core of this song. And it’s beyond awesome.
The verses are quiet and introspective, with cello melodies on top of a bare instrumental in which Tasuku Hatanaka’s raspy vocals shine.
There’s drama to this track that is added by the solemn strings and a certain melancholy that comes for the hard-hitting 80s beat and synths.
Those elements, together with the funky electric guitars and fast dramatic piano melodies create what I consider to be one of the best instrumentals released in 2021 so far. The balance in this song as well as the powerful drums had me going.
On the vocal end, Tasuku Hatanaka powers his way through the song do deliver a strong performance riding on his robust mid-tones, gentle vibrato and ethereal falsetto. Masterful performance in what is Hatanaka’s best song to date.
2 – Moment For Life
“Moment For Life” is a refreshing song in Hatanaka’s repertoire. It explores EDM music but with a dramatic touch on top.
The verses feature screaming guitars and a deep marching beat, quickly shifting through tempos to fit in all the elements joining in at almost every 4 or 16 beat. Ethereal piano melodies add a beautiful color to this song, contrasting with the deep, dirty seesaw synths in the chorus.
Yes, you read it well “dirty seesaw synths”. Hatanaka went dark in his approach to electronica for this track.
I’ve had to review plenty of EDM so far on this website but I don’t recall reviewing a song with what I now consider to be the dirtiest chorus – synths-wise – I’ve ever listened to by a seiyuu artist.
The synths are fat, oppressive, bigger than usual, glitchy at times, taking the spotlight away from the progressive beat and piano melodies for a couple of seconds but then something awesome happens.
I find the chorus to be pretty interesting as there’s a long going on in it and, if you check Hatanaka’s repertoire, everything is new in there.
However, what stands out the most is that there’s an awesome, seamless transition between those imposing seesaw synths and the rest of the instrumental that I’m sure few people will notice.
Those end up morphing into the instrumental for the 2nd part of the chorus and you won’t even notice that happening.
One would think that you’d notice something that big and loud vanishing from the song but even my trained ears – result of almost 2 decades of music composition and passionate music listening – couldn’t catch that in the first go of the chorus.
When the chorus appears for the 2nd time it was when I noticed that yeah, something was missing from there and it were those synths that smoothly morphed into the background. Smoothly.
That was unexpected and quite a bold and confident showing from the song’s composer that I really like coming across when reviewing music.
Hatanaka went all out in his performance. He tackled the lyrics with a lot of power and confidence, delivering a striking performance to a song this intense and unusual for him.
3 – 風を作る
“Kaze o Tsukuru” paints this single in hopeful, bright colors, strongly contrasting with all the darkness in the previous song.
The verses ride on top of acoustic guitar melodies, bright strings and piano melodies, all creating a welcoming soundscape that will put a smile on your face.
Those feelings carry over to the warm chorus in which Tasuku Hatanaka’s smooth mid-tones and vibrato shine.
A nice detail in this song is the sweet cello solo gracing the listener in the bridge. Given how this is a semi-acoustic song, I was actually expecting an acoustic guitar or piano to take the spotlight, but the choice was towards making that gentleness going on in the track bloom in its entirety.
“TWISTED HEARTS” is a massive entry in Tasuku Hatanaka’s repertoire, hands down his best single to date.
I am a massive sucker for 80s inspired music – I grew up listening to 80s music after all – therefore, whenever I find it in seiyuu artists’ repertoires and, better yet, it sounds like a genuine take on the sounds and melodies of that era, I can’t help but get insanely excited about it. “TWISTED HEARTS” is that kind of song for me.
It captured 80s synthpop sound pretty well however with a bit of a modern touch here and there – noticeable in some synths used in this song that wouldn’t normally be used back then –; the drama in the track (including lyrics) is a result of the song being featured as the opening theme for Moriarty the Patriot though.
However, that drama does not sound out-of-place, on the contrary, those dramatic strings and lyrics fit this song perfectly.
I enjoy the boldness of this single. It is not conventional. Yes. Many people will be put off by some instrument choices. Yes.
But did you stop to notice that no other seiyuu artist is trailing the path he is trailing with this single? This time around he pushed the envelope and went for a set of tracks that are as unique as you could get for seiyuu artists at the moment.
This kind of boldness fits him well but, as I’ve mentioned in other reviews of his music, I’d love for him to either find a music genre that suits him or market himself as a chameleon artist among seiyuu, and thus have the freedom to do what he wants.
He’s been going back and forth on music genres explored, doesn’t settle yet at times he hits the nail on what suits him but then moves on. “TWISTED HEARTS” goes in a really good direction for him however, I suspect that by the next single, he’ll sound completely different again.
“Moment For Life” is pure madness by the composers but, interestingly enough, that’s the kind of madness that I love to find in composers.
EDM is not something new for seiyuu artists, most of you reading this review perhaps aren’t even fans of the music genre, thus, if the seiyuu artist wants to stand out, they should pull something out of the box within the genre. Play around with the composition. Not be afraid of going loud and dirty.
“Moment For Life” might not sound like it but it’s quite the show of confidence by the composer. At the same time, Hatanaka, that chose to perform this song was also pretty confident he could tackle it. That’s bold as it’s not an easy song to perform.
But I love that that confidence paid off in the end. Awesome moment in this single.
“Kaze o Tsukuru” is also another song that is not a common find in Hatanaka’s repertoire yet, it was such a good take on it. The shift from dirty electronica to acoustic pop was a bit strange and the song can get a bit repetitive by the 2nd chorus – hence the lower ranking I gave to it -, but it’s still a nice take on the genre, and an interesting way to show a different side to Hatanaka.
I found it curious that it wasn’t requested of Hatanaka to showcase his range in this song. He’s got a really good range yet he seldom gets to show it because EDM music doesn’t require it, so now that there was an opportunity to showcase it… he didn’t.
If you pay special attention to his performance in “Kaze o Tsukuru”, you’ll notice that it is a solid one however nothing special in comparison with the intensity and emotions in the previous tracks. That was a lost opportunity that I believe would have made this song much better in its delivery and could really be the highlight (let Hatanaka belt for once, Lantis!).
An additional note, as I feel like this may have passed through many people but, by the time the single released, you may have not noticed it. Lantis mentioned in their press release that “TWISTED HEARTS” was going to have “electro-rock with emo and post-hardcore” elements.
There is electro-rock. But there was never any emo or post-hardcore in this single. And if “Moment For Life” was meant to have emo and post-hardcore elements in there… well, there aren’t any.
80s synthpop? Yes. Dirty EDM? Yes. Acoustic pop? Yes.
So yeah, the marketing behind this single was a bit… odd to say the least. Still, glad that the single didn’t end up leaning towards those music genres, or if it did, that it would have happened in place of “Kaze o Tsukuru”, I believe that it would have wrapped up the single pretty strongly.
All in all, Tasuku Hatanaka’s “TWISTED HEARTS” is quite the unconventional single but one that brought a lot of quality to the table. It improved upon his previously released singles – some featuring a couple of lazy songs in the mix – and showed that Hatanaka is, indeed, a versatile performer that deserves your attention.
TWISTED HEARTS is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.