Shouta Aoi shifts gears from his sound with Broccoli. Now under King Records, Aoi evolves his sonority and enhances the already good points about him. “Innocent” is yet another dazzling, close to perfect release from one of the major vocal talents in Japan.
Single:イノセント Label: King Records Release date: 27/07/2016 Genre: J-Pop
1 - イノセント 2 - ずっと… 2 - Summer Dreamin'
Track by track analysis:
1 – イノセント
Already known to his fans and fans of the shoujo anime “Hatsukoi Monster”, Innocent puts Aoi in the middle of a rocking instrumental. With agressive guitar riffs and thunderous drums being the main core of the track, adding a powerful edge to Aoi‘s delicate, energetic vocals. Although his vocals are at times delicate and ethereal (especially in the intro), he packs a hell of a punch during the verses alongside an instrumental piece that begs and is met by a powerful vocal. Exciting, addictive and certainly another edgy song to add to his repertoire. 5/5
2 – ずっと…
Aoi penned this beautiful ballad. With a mellow melody resorting mainly to simple drums, a delicate piano melody and minimal synths, ずっと… is not the typical slow tempo, overly emotional ballad. It’s actually a bit bright in comparison with his previous ballads which is a breath of fresh air. Vocally this track has some of the best vocal performances Aoi has delivered this year. His angelic high notes never fail to make our jaws drop, even his falsetto is something praiseworthy on this track. Beautiful track with lyrics to match. 5/5
3 – Summer Dreamin’
To complete this release we’re presented with “Summer Dreamin’“, a track that puts the guitars aside as well as the delicate piano melodies. It’s a mid-tempo synth pop track that lacks a bit in both energy and in captivating the listener. While it’s still a solid song with really nothing bad to point out, it lacks some of the quality the previous tracks had. But that is just the instrumental piece, as soon as we turn to the vocal performance we’re once again impressed by Aoi‘s never ending quality with high notes that really send chills down our spine. But after two impressive songs we were expecting far more from this. 4/5
Shouta Aoi presented us with a striking single. “Innocent” has a little bit of everything. While we kick off with a track that might mislead the listener with its intro (only), we’re pleasantly surprised with a solid pop-rock song in which the rock elements take the front seat to what is a fantastic ride. To follow up we have “ずっと…“, a beautiful ballad penned by Aoi himself that is brighter than any ballad he’s sang before. Putting aside the power chords and the aggressiveness from the first track, this one goes in the opposite way, into a ground he knows by heart. With his mesmerizing and delicate vocals, this ballad easily shines in this release. Then, to complete this release, we’re presented with Summer Dreamin’, a track clearly made for the dancefloor. Although this last track lacked a bit in the instrumental department, this release still comes on top as one of the most consistent of the year.
“Innocent” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.