Yuki Ono has finally made his solo debut under Lantis. Titled “Party Man” and with an overall concept that leaves a lot open for criticism, let’s see if Ono‘s first solo effort turned out to be a great stepping stone for more releases or if something else completely different comes from it.
Mini-album: Party Man Label: Lantis Release date: 22/06/15 Genre: J-Pop
1.Party Night 2.あの娘とツイスト 3.BLACK or WHITE 4.もぎたてISLAND 5.グッドバイ 6.カーテンコールのその後で
Track by track analysis:
- Party Night
Kicking off in a traditional way, “Party Night” almost tricks us into thinking that we might be in for a traditional ride with this track. But the presence of the shamisen and that enka instrumental is only the tip of the ice in this track. Quickly this track goes towards a mix of jazz, Latin, enka, and disco with Ono on the helm rapping the verses. While it might sound like a weird track on a first listen – it truly is, be ready for it -, interestingly enough this “overcrowded mess of a dance-pop track” features more music genres on it than any normal 10-track album or 4-track single, and has some entertainment value. The chorus will certainly grab your attention – and it might be the best part of the whole track, besides the interesting jazz bridge.
On the vocal side of this track, it’s the first time we’ve listened to Ono‘s rapping skills – those are not something over-the-top fantastic – but in the end, fared well in this track. What might get on your nerves is those high-pitched background vocals in the chorus. Besides that the vocal track is ok. But the instrumental almost kills everything. Usually with so many music genres available I’d say “Pick your poison“, but in this case, the poison is already mixed so get ready for everything and anything on the same track – sounds messy, right? 3.5/5
A taste of the ’50s comes with this track. After “Party Night” it sounds like a breath of fresh air but it still doesn’t compensate for the damage taken while listening to it. With a textbook classic 50’s rock instrumental focused in simple drums, funky guitar riffs, a playful piano, and fast bass, あの娘とツイスト ups the quality in this single, if only for a little bit. It’s an upbeat track with a considerably up-tempo instrumental that will entertain you from the very first riffs. The vocal performance is steady, fun, energetic, and entertaining which is a big plus. 4/5
3. BLACK or WHITE
BLACK or WHITE is a mix of OLDCODEX, Kensho Ono, Takuma Terashima‘s rock sound. With powerful drums, aggressive guitar riffs, and a rich bassline, we’re in for a good time with this track. With an enveloping fast-paced and complete instrumental Ono is left with the easiest job – putting his low-toned vocals to good use – and the result is magnificent. The vocals add an extra edge to the already “edgy” instrumental track, even with a special treat for his fans with that trademark KISHOW scream in the end of the track. His singing like a rockstar plus the instrumental seems to have enchanted us, in what is the best track in this mini-album and the best surprise available on it. 5/5
With a more alternative pop sound, もぎたてISLAND picks some jazz elements to add a laidback feel to the whole instrumental and it turned out pretty alright. Think about this track as something very likely to have been singing by Trignal when they debuted – overly bright and cheerful with lots of brass. The instrumental doesn’t sound in any way horrible, on the contrary, it’s incredibly entertaining and that brightness will make it impossible to hate it. The jazzy guitars, the melodic guitar solo, that summer feel that this track simply exudes from the very first notes is something well executed. The vocal performance fits like a glove to the instrumental, one thing Yuki Ono has for sure when he’s singing is that his vocals rarely tend to give in or sound weird, which might be another one of the big good points in this whole release. With this specific track, we’re presented with a cheerful approach to both the lyrics and the way it’s sung. Ono‘s versatility is already being showcased to its fullest. 4/5
A rock ballad arrives to ease our minds. グッドバイ (Goodbye) shows us another perspective to Ono‘s vocal capabilities. Resorting to slow-paced drums, melodic guitar riffs, emotional acoustic guitar work, a highly noticeable bass, and a sweet piano in the background, the instrumental piece almost sounds like “Hanabira” from Jazz/Rock band SID (the pre-chorus and chorus sound alike in terms of the arrangement), which is a good thing to boot. Picking up this music genre and delivering it in the most complete and emotional way is not something many can do right. Ono was up to the task and completed it amazingly. A solid vocal performance in an incredibly rich instrumental. Top marks. 5/5
And to finish this unusual trip through Yuki Ono‘s debut mini-album we get something right from memory lane. Soul and jazz blend in this track to deliver this slow-paced jam with lots of spots where Ono‘s rough vocals shine. Laidback, classy, and most of all, entertaining without being overwhelming, カーテンコールのその後で turns out to be a good finisher for this mini-album. 4.5/5
With a god-awful mess of concept as his debut greeting card, Yuki Ono almost saw his efforts go down the drain.
We’ve seen the “disco/party man” concept used previously and while it’s a lot of fun to watch it – to get good laughs plus some second-hand embarrassment – it not only shames the image of Yuki Ono, the seiyuu, but now also soils the debut and image of Yuki Ono the singer/idol. It’ll take some time to get used to Lantis‘ once again ridiculous concept. Good thing Yuki Ono‘s singing is good or he’d have a hard time with this whole mini-album.
Putting aside the fact that the visuals accompanying this release lack anything interesting and/or serious, “Party Man” was really like a rollercoaster. Kicking off badly and ending on a sweet soul note only show a bit of the variety of genres this mini-album features. Jazz, soul, enka, disco, Latin, pop, rock, and ballad are some of the genres in the never-ending array of genres in which Yuki Ono showcased his vocal traits and capabilities to their fullest. Be it singing or rapping, Yuki Ono seems to be equipped to sing almost anything.
Still this mini-album has many fun, danceable tracks, good rock tunes, and the occasional bright pop tune to brighten up your day. All of this with a mess of a first track “Party Night” that is the closest thing to having the Black Eyed Peas mixing or try to sing one of your tracks (yeah, that overcrowded and ridiculous), but pearls like “BLACK or WHITE” and グッドバイ compensate on the long run for that misstep.
All in all, it’s not a perfect debut but we’re looking forward to the follow-up since some of the tracks in this release made us ask and wish for more.
“Party Man” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.