Monday, December 19, 2011

Let's Talk about JPN.


Yes, yes I know that Perfume's third album, JPN came out last month but with exams and SATs and all that crazy stuff I couldn't get around to reviewing it! But hey... better late than never, right?

Before I start reviewing the actual songs, can I just say I can't believe how far Perfume has come? They've gone from selling a few hundred singles to selling hundreds of thousands. I think it's really great that they've had to work so hard for their fame and I congratulate them on their #1 ranking for JPN! From what I've read, fans appear to be pretty divided about JPN. Some embrace the new style of the album but others criticize the "safe" direction Nakata's taking the group. As for myself, I'm not sure what to think. Dominantly, I do enjoy the album but I also kinda want some GAME-stuff back. But let's take a look at JPN and this new direction Perfume appears to be headed!

2. Laser Beam (Album-mix)

I think this remix drove me crazy. I loved the original so I was a little sceptical about the album-mix. But knowing how well edge turned out I put in my faith that Nakata would make this awesome. Then I heard it and well... I do like the remix. I think Nakata really turned it into its own song with the arrangement, musical variations, and the really cool distortions. However... I thought my headphones were broken when I first heard the remix. I think it was mainly because of the "bumps" in the audio where it just stopped for a split second then picked back up. I think once I listen to this remix a few more times I'll like it but as for now it makes my head hurt.

My Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

3. GLITTER (Album-mix)

It seems like a lot of people prefer the album mix of Laser Beam over GLITTER but I feel differently. Whilst Laser Beam made me question my sanity, GLITTER was a lot more entertaining to me. It had enough surprises in it to make me enjoy the song but not so many that I wondered if the GLITTER from Spice and the GLITTER from JPN were the same song. As a whole I just really enjoyed the alterations to the B-side because it was thoroughly enjoyable to me. It kept all the elements from the original I loved and then added some new ones just to spice things up (I apologize for that awful pun.).

My Rating: ★★★★★

4. Natural ni Koishite

As usual, I adore this song. It's fun, catchy, and the PV is amazingly whimsical. Funny, I never thought I'd associate techno with whimsical. Then again, I never thought I'd see Morning Musume in duck outfits but I digress. I've said before that I enjoyed Fushizen na Girl a bit more than NnK but I really do enjoy this song! I think it's one of those songs where every time I listen to it, I increasingly like it! The instrumental is also really fun to hum to; I know I did...

My Rating: ★★★★☆


To me, this song was very reminiscent of Dream Fighter. Not in the lyrics-sense but just the sound and the vocals and the entire arrangement. I really love how upbeat this song is, I think it's probably the most upbeat of the new songs. It's not as energetic as Chocolate Disco (but then what is?) but just enough to make me want to dance! It's like a breath of fresh air for me; the past few tracks were either really light of on the heavier side but MY COLOR is like that perfect balance. It also makes a great transition for the next song! I'm really looking forward to what Perfume will do with this song live because I see a lot of potential for cool dances, audience participation, etc!

My Rating: ★★★★★

6. Toki no Hari

Okay. What. Let me rephrase that in terms that make sense. I was very, very weirded out when I first heard this song. It sounds like a lost Watariouka Hashiritai song Nakata found and messed with then proclaimed it to be Toki no Hari. I think what shocked me was how raw the vocals are. With Perfume, the closest we've gotten to hearing their natural voices are the snippets on TV when they sing a teensy part of a song live or their really old music. And no offense to Perfume, but their really old music sounds very idol-y. However, I think it's actually kind of nice to hear them without quite as much vocal editing. So although I was very weirded out on the first listen and still find the song a bit too cutesy, it's actually a pretty neat listen.

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

7. Nee

FAKE IT is still better by default. But as I've said before I still think Nee's a good song and I especially think it's good for the album. Contrasting with the fans' popular opinion, I think FAKE IT should not be included on this album. It's not because it's a bad song! It's amazing, edgy, and pushes the boundaries like Perfume's old music! But the thing is... it doesn't fit with the album's tone. JPN has this very light, safe feel to it and FAKE IT is just... not. However, Nee goes with the album very well and while it's not the lightest song on the tracklist it still works very well. I enjoy the distortion in the instrumental, the beat, the lyrics I can actually sing to because they're so repititive, and really everything about this song was just constructed very well. So yes, FAKE IT is still better but Nee is better for the album. 

My Rating: ★★★★☆

8. Kasuka na Kaori

And here's the second A-side every person on the Internet apparently hates! I almost feel like it's a crime to like this song but I really do! I mean, it's not my favorite single from Perfume but it's a pretty soothing track to listen to. I really don't see why the Internet is so hateful of it- oh wait, yes I do. I suppose it is a very light track and maybe some people think that Nakata just didn't put a lot of effort into it as a double A-side. Personally, I think it's kind of nice and I definitely think it fits the album! The really airy tone to it makes it the perfect song to just sit back and relax to and I think that's really nice to have. So yeah. I like Kasukana; please don't hurt me Internet!!!

My Rating: ★★★★☆

9. 575

Yay for haiku songs!! I've already expressed my utmost love for this song in my top 20 Perfume songs so I'll just do a quick recap: I dislike VOICE hence I gravitated towards 575 for its catchy beat, neat composition (the haiku arrangement was very clever), and the really driving lyrics. It's a very good ballad by Perfume and fits their style (unlike Negai... but that's off topic!). When choosing a good B-side to fit the album, I think Nakata was very smart to pick 575. It goes with the tone of the album but still has a very distinct style to it that sets it apart from the new songs!

My Rating: ★★★★★


I think I've touched on why I don't like this song before but I'll say it again. It just doesn't do much for me. 575 was the more attractive song to me so that probably had a hand in my distaste of VOICE. It's not a terrible song but I think knowing that Perfume can do better (and thank god they did do better songs after this) was what sort of left me with a "Meh" feeling about this song. I guess to some fans it's good but to me I think Perfume could have done better and now that I think about it I'd much rather have a new album song to replace VOICE. I Still Love U Perfume, but Nakata, please don't every go back to this again.

My Rating: ★★☆☆☆

11. Kokoro no Sports

I was actually really worried when I heard the title to this song. Images of idol songs and Perfume prancing around in uniforms haunted me. As it turned out, my worries were all for naught as this song is still in the style of Perfume! I really love how this song starts off as slow but then gets increasingly upbeat and happier. It makes me think of Ceramic Girl, strangely enough. However, although is very fun and light to listen to I think it's a little too safe. I'm all for happy songs but I feel like Nakata could have taken this a step further. All in all it's still a very nice song to listen to even if it could have gone the extra mile!

My Rating: ★★★★☆

12. Have a Stroll

Oddly enough, when I hear this song I don't want to have a stroll. Odd. But I still like this song! It's not on par with MY COLOR but it doesn't weird me out so much as Toki no Hari (I'm still trying to figure out if I like or hate that song...). However, I still think it's very safe, much like Kokoro no Sports. But with Have a Stroll, I think that's okay because sure what else Nakata could do with this song. It's really just a fluffy track on the list but in a way that works. It's on my list of songs I listen to while doing homework because it's easy to tune out to but helps me get stuff done! So if you're looking for one of the safer tracks on the album, I would recommend this one because it's safe in a good way.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

13. Fushizen na Girl

This song got remixed too!? Well, not really but Nakata added some nice little touches but not enough that they could call it an album-mix I assume. And I really think the little remixes added a lot more texture to the song. I've said how I think FnG has a very "zonky" feel to it (that's the only way I can describe it) and I think not making it into a full-blown remix kept the zonky-ness but still added this new flair to the song. I still love the original parts and when the remixed moments came up I found them pleasantly surprising. In fact, I'd rather Nakata have done something like this with Laser Beam than the head-phone traumatizing remix I listened to... but other tracks aside, it's still a really good Perfume song and probably one of the best from the JPN era (and my personal favorite)

My Rating: ★★★★★

14. Spice

And so JPN ends with their final single of the JPN-era! When I first heard the preview, I though I wouldn't like this song because of the slow pacing. However, after hearing the whole thing I think the chorus fits the song perfectly. It's very toned down compared to their past singles but it's also very mature and the PV is very interpretive. It really showed to the fans how Perfume wasn't this little group from Hiroshima anymore and that as they grew their music would grow with them. And I think that's a good direction for them!

My Rating: ★★★★★

I think the best word to describe this album is light. Unlike GAME and ⊿, JPN has a very light feel to it. The tracks are often not very heavy and don't expect to find anything like edge on here. And to be honest... I'm okay with that. Do I love heavy, edgy Perfume? Of course I do, but I feel like I need to go with this change in direction. I actually think I might be able to go along with these lighter happier songs but I do hope Nakata will pull another FAKE IT or GAME on us. I think that's the problem with Perfume right now; Nakata doesn't know how to balance the old stuff with the new stuff hence both the group and their fans are stuck in a rut. Light or heavy? Edge or Toki no Hari? We don't know what Perfume's coming out with next but as a fan, I'm going to support them either way. So yes, I embrace JPN with open arms but also look back and hope Nakata will incorporate some older stuff into Perfume's music.

However, if you're new to Perfume, I wouldn't recommend listening to this album first. It's a good album from Perfume but to me it feels more like a Complete Best Album. There are only 4 new songs (in contrast to the 6 from and the 7 from GAME) and even those new songs feel like they're revamped versions of songs from the Complete Best Era. In fact, I think I can compare each song to an original song from Complete Best... hrm... like this!

Perfect Star Perfect Style ---> MY COLOR
Computer Driving ---> Have a Stroll
Foundation ---> Kokoro no Sports

That might just be the way I look at it, but back on subject, the songs are good but if you want more original content I would recommend GAME as a first listen and then ⊿. After doing that, I think you can appreciate JPN more and see how far Perfume has come.

My overall rating: ★★★★☆

P.S. Dear Nakata, I'm still waiting for my full version of Lovefool. Please send that soon. Maybe for Christmas? Or put it as a B-side. Hint hint.

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