Takuya Sato returns with “36.8ºC”, a bright single that has a rocky start but quickly picks its pace and manages to dazzle.
Title: 36.8ºC Label: Frontier Works Release date: 08/02/17 Genre: J-Pop
1. SWEET&BITTER 2. Walking Holiday 3. 氷解 4. SWEET&BITTER ( カラオケver. ) 5. Walking Holiday ( カラオケver. ) 6. 氷解 ( カラオケver. )
Track by track analysis:
If you were waiting for something bright from Sato then this song is clearly up your alley.
If not, you’re in for a hard time to dealing with this song. “SWEET&BITTER” remind us of Kato Kazuki‘s debut songs, it’s a soft pop song with a bright tone given by the synths and simple, upbeat piano melody. The instrumental sounds dated, almost as if this is an old song from 2006 or 2008.
I don’t feel it was intentional to make the song sound like that but if it wasn’t then this was lazy composition and arrangement. The vocal performance is nothing stellar as we find him singing this song on a higher scale than usual, and struggling a bit with it. Both vocal performance and instrumental could have fared better with little tweaks. 3.5/5
2. Walking Holiday
A delicate piano melody and a rhodes piano set the mood for “Walking Holiday“, a jazzy song with a sweet touch to it. The instrumental is fairly simple, with the verses being just quiet parts with some rhodes piano and acoustic guitar work, the chorus is, for the first time in one of his releases, one of the highlights.
The pacing of this song and its chorus completely made us forget the slight trainwreck that was the previous song in all departments. Sato‘s performance ranges from mid-tones to higher ones, attempting falsetto on a couple of occasions.
We must say that this time around we were thoroughly entertained by the song as a whole which is a good indicator of how well this one was put together.
3. 氷解 (Hyokai)
An acoustic guitar hurries the listener to pay attention that what’s about to happen. And what is it exactly? Sato dressed in a rock fashion. And just not any rock fashion, as this song with ballad touches is very reminiscent of the gazettE‘s power ballads. It’s like Sato saved the best for last. This song gave us the gazettE feelings from “Cassis” or “Reila” as soon as it kicked off.
Slow-paced, and delicate but heavy at the same time, carrying a lot of emotion in its core. A delight to listen to. Hands down his best song to date. His vocals fit this genre the best, you’ll understand that as you listen to this single as a whole. Making good use of his lower and mid-tones, the vocal performance packs the necessary punch to make the song interesting and engaging. The emotion he carries on his vocals is outstanding this time around.
This instrumental in “Hyokai” will hit you like a truck. Bassy drums are responsible for the mid-tempo in this song, shredding guitar riffs add a bit of rawness to the song whereas the melodic guitar riffs put your emotions in check. Without that much interference from synths, the bass can properly shine, delivering a thunderous bassline that enveloped every single element in this song.
The chorus is incredibly powerful and Sato‘s vocals filled with emotion were more than enough to grab our attention. In between the first chorus and the second verse fans are presented with a guitar solo that connected well both parts of the song. Everything was on point.
Sato has been straying away from his debut sound. He’s experimenting with several music genres and this release is just a glimpse of what he’s been trying to do. We have bright pop, classy jazzy, and a rocking powerballad.
It’s an odd combo, especially when the first song will put you off almost instantly with its over brightness. But things progress smoothly and by the time we reach the last song we’re already anticipating an increase in quality. It’s exactly what we got in the end.
“氷解” (Hyokai) is by far the best song he has released so far. There’s no way around this. Most of his songs have been either lackluster or just “okay”. This one raised the bar and pushed his capabilities to what I only consider as being far from his potential – and it still rocks.
The single kicked off in a way that doesn’t showcase Sato‘s trademark vocal prowess – remember when people first heard him sing and were confused as to whether it was Tatsuhisa Suzuki or Daisuke Ono on the mic? -, those low and mid tones that are surprisingly stable and that rendered us speechless in songs like 前を向いて (Mae o muite) and 月下に交わす、杯と契り (慶次ソロver.) (Gekka ni kawasu, hai to chigiri).
As a result, I feared the rest of the release would go towards the same route – which would simply be a ridiculous thing to do to him. Thankfully, the songs got gradually better and more interesting as I finished listening to this single.
It’s no surprise that his vocals fit better in jazz and rock. His tone demands powerful, melodic instrumentals in order to shine. It’s easier to create instrumentals for a mid-toned voice since those are much more common in the music business however, for someone with a lower, deep baritone, the instrumentals have to be carefully crafted.
If only Frontier Works would notice this and stopped creating overly bright songs for someone whose vocals don’t fit the genre nor the key, Sato’s career might skyrocket to a respectful position.
And if all songs in this release had been created around “Hyokai“, I can assure you that seiyuu fans would be all over his single. Sadly, this release hasn’t caught that much interest from seiyuu fans or even his fans – at least overseas.
Sato is lowkey showing his skills and few have noticed it. A gem on his repertoire that deserves some love.
“36.8ºC” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.