Review | UMake “Darling!”

UMake

UMake continue to spread their gentle and easy-listening music with the sweet single “Darling!“.

UMake Darling! regular
Regular
Title: Darling!
Release date: 12/08/2020
Label: Art Sonic
Genre: Pop-Rock / Ballad

Tracklist:

1 - Darling!
2 - 花火
3 - 6月の約束 -Re Arrange-
4 - 明日に走り出した君へ -Re Arrange-
5 - Darling!(Instrumental)
6 - 花火(Instrumental)
7 - 6月の約束 -Re Arrange-(Instrumental)
8 - 明日に走り出した君へ -Re Arrange-(Instrumental)

Track by track analysis:

1 – Darling!

An emotional piano melody and strings paint the soundscape in a gentle way. The verses feature pizzicato strings and funky guitar riffs on top of a groovy bass line and simple drums.

The build up to the chorus is pretty soft, very on brand with the song’s sweet, cozy vibe. The pacing is really comfortable, riding on top of the deep bass line.

The chorus picks up the pace while strings and the bass take the spotlight, creating catchy yet sweet melodies.

Listeners are also presented with a fancy guitar solo in the bridge, leading up to a quieter section in which pizzicato strings accompany the vocals by Ito and Nakajima.

As far as the vocals go, Ito and Nakajima are on top of their game yet, keeping things simple.

The performance requires a certain care instead of flashy flourishes or the sort. What you get is a really simple performance that does the job at engaging you in a rather warm and cozy way.

2 – 花火

Hanabi” carries over the gentle touch in the previous track however, tones most of the elements to give way to a bass-driven sound, richer and fuller despite its simplicity.

The piano melodies are, in a way, reminiscing of those in citypop something that, alongside the funky guitar riffs and deep, groovy bass line complete this throwback. “Hanabi” paint a soundscape filled with neon lights and with a comfortable warm to it.

The chorus is simple, to the point and catchy, much in the tradition of pop music.

Something that I love about this song is the bass and piano work. The duality in this song caught my eye.

The bass is really punchy in this song, carrying the song around from start to finish. It is responsible for all the groove as well as fleshing out the citypop sound. The piano is delicate and crystal clear, contrasting with bass’ slightly dirty groove.

Now, on the vocal end, Ito and Nakajima made sure they had their aces up their sleeves. Their performance is filled with flair, with both tackling their sections with a lot of comfort and confidence, something that translates into flashy flourishes, a bit of falsetto to accentuate certain sections and powerful harmonies.

3 – 6月の約束 (Re Arrange)

Rokugatsu no Yakusoku” gets a re-arrangement, embracing a stripped down, warm acoustic sound that takes the original song from 4:55 minutes to over 6 minutes.

The verses count with acoustic guitars and a simple piano melody accompanying the lullabyish vocals of Kento Ito as well as the whispery vocals by Yoshiki Nakajima.

The tone is completely different from the original version, with this re-arrangement being a better representation of who UMake are as a duo.

The quality improves with the addition of strings in the background and a beautiful acoustic guitar work throughout.

Worth noting that Ito and Nakajima’s performance is completely different in quality from their 2018 go at it. Nakajima sounds cleaner – less nasaly – and more confident whereas Ito has more power and emotion in his performance however losing all that vibrato from his original performance.

This song drips honey. Too sweet of a take on what was, already, a pretty good song.

4 – 明日に走り出した君へ (Re Arrange)

To wrap up this single UMake present us with “Ashita ni ashiri deshita kimi e”, another re-arranged song from their debut album “Make up a Dream”, released in 2018.

This is a stripped-down version of the original, focusing on a beautiful piano melody while bringing to the table bassy, intense drums and beautiful strings, creating a sweet soundscape for listeners to lose themselves in.

Guitars are clear and close to the listener while the strings rest slightly on top and to your back in the wide soundstage UMake created for you.

The chorus is almost lullabyish, having a touch of ballad to it but never going the overly dramatic route, instead leaving those emotions to the vocals.

Love the brass added in the bridge, adding a grandiose touch to the song.

3 years later and I still love this song to bits.


Final considerations

UMake keep on delivering sweet, gentle performances filled with emotion, taking those to “Darling!

Among the new songs, “Hanabi” stands out as the best track. I love the soft take on citypop in this song and how funky and groovy it is. The song is enjoyable to listen to and the vocals only make you replay the song time and time again.

The title track, “Darling!” is a sweet song really on brand with what UMake have used us to. However, I was expecting something a bit more complex, at least on the vocal end, from the duo. Instead, the song is straightforward and simple on all ends. Enjoyable to listen to but it lacks a bit of flair to it.

UMake have been, slowly, re-arranging their debut songs.

This time around, fans get to listen to reworked versions of “Rokugatsu no Yakusoku” and “Ashita ni ashiri deshita kimi e”, songs featured on the duo’s first full-length album “Make up a Dream”.

To my surprise, “Ashita ni ashiri deshita kimi e” got a re-arrangement.

This is actually one of my favorite songs by UMake thus, I was surprised to listen to this much improved take on what was, originally, a genuinely good song. The closeness of the instruments to the listener, the strings, the brass, those drums, there are vast, noticeable improvements over the original one.

The original version had a fairytale vibe whereas this version has a mature take on it and takes it to ballad territory.

The vocals stand out as the biggest improvement. From 2018 to 2020, Kento Ito and Yoshiki Nakajima have improved a lot as singers and with that have come completely different and clearer performances.

The duo took that to this song, as well as the beautiful “Rokugatsu no Yakusoku”, and the differences were instantly noticeable.

The murkiness and nasal touch to their performances in the original was replaced by clear, confident and powerful vocals that convey the emotions in the lyrics in a more intense way than in the original.

All in all, UMake’s “Darling!” is overflowing in gentleness, with all of their songs exuding a cozy, warm vibe, not to mention outstanding performances on top by the talented Ito-Nakajima duo.

If you’re looking for easy-listening music that will warm you up and put a smile on your face, UMake have the perfect thing for you in “Darling!”.


Darling! is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.

Darling! / UMake (Kento Ito, Yoshiki Nakajima)
 
UMake (Kento Ito, Yoshiki Nakajima)
Darling! / UMake (Kento Ito, Yoshiki Nakajima)
 
UMake (Kento Ito, Yoshiki Nakajima)

Darling! is available for streaming on Spotify.

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

SUMMARY

UMake’s “Darling!” is overflowing in gentleness, with all of their songs exuding a cozy, warm vibe, not to mention outstanding performances on top by the talented Ito-Nakajima duo. The vocals stand out as the biggest improvement for this duo. Kento Ito and Yoshiki Nakajima have improved a lot as singers and with that have come completely different and clearer performances. Sweet and gentle, "Darling!" is a single you can't miss.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Darling!
花火
6月の約束 (Re Arrange)
明日に走り出した君へ (Re Arrange)
Vanessa Silvahttps://www.handthatfeedshq.com
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder and music reviewer writing about Japanese music since 2010. Also, the only person managing everything The Hand That Feeds HQ related. In 2011, I stumbled upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus". Since then I have been writing about male seiyuu music. You may find me writing almost essays whenever music is really good (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). I also host the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).

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