Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Waning Moon and Perfect Synchronization

So... Scandal's releasing an album this year.

Pretty exciting, huh? I always look forward to releases from this idol band! Along with an album, Scandal's releasing another single produced by Nakata Yasutaka of all people! But I'll get to Over Drive some other time whether it be in a PV review, a single review or hell, an album review! I'm not sure if I'm going to review Scandal's fifth album, Standard, yet. It's released the same week as Level3 and considering how I'm going to be occupied with all the craziness surrounding that album... we'll have to just wait and see! But for now, I decided to take a look at Scandal's second single of the Standard era, Kagen no Tsuki aka The Waning Moon. Gee, if this single was being released in October, I'd probably think it revolved around werewolves... Anyways, you wouldn't believe how close I was to reviewing the PV for Kagen no Tsuki; it wasn't until I'd listened to a preview of the B-side that I decided to review the entire single instead! So yeah, I think you all know the drill by now. Nia reviews covers, Nia reviews songs, Nia gives apples to each song, and then Nia gives apples to the single as a whole. Pretty simple formula, right? Well then, with that out of the way, let's waste no more time and dive right into Kagen no Tsuki!


I gotta say... I really don't have much to say about the covers and outfits for Kagen no Tsuki. I mean... they look nice? The clothes the girls of Scandal are wearing look fine, very modern. I suspect though if I look back at them in ten years, they'll look extremely outdated. I noticed that Mami's gone turquoise now, or half-turquoise. It's actually a pretty good look for her. I was a little 50/50 on her blonde hair, but she rocks it pretty well. Everyone else looks fine, very normal. I actually kind of miss the school uniforms they donned for their earlier singles. I guess they're too old for that now, but there was something strangely awesome about the plethora of cool uniforms they wore for each single. It doesn't really matter since clothing choices aren't really a huge deal for Scandal, especially as a band. So yeah, overall, the outfits look good. What about the covers? Eh... they look fine too? I don't know if it's because I'm typing this at midnight that I can't think of anything to say about them, but I don't think there's anything bad about the covers for Kagen no Tsuki.

The covers for Limited A an B are practically the same. Both feature the members of Scandal lying on a lightly colored wooden floor, surrounding an orb/moon/sphere thing. Only different is in Limited A, they're all staring into the camera, whilst in the Limited B, they all look like they're sleeping. Maybe they're dreaming of the full moon? Then there's the Regular Edition which just features them all standing in a line facing left in front of a bright white backdrop. Not particularly interesting, but not horribly tacky unlike some of the other covers I've faced in my time as an idol blogger. Look, I really don't know what else to say about these covers. They're pretty neutral and straightforward, to the point where they're almost boring to look at. Luckily, the covers don't reflect my overall verdict of the single! So let's breeze on past the painfully dull covers for Kagen no Tsuki and get toe the real meet of this single: the songs.

Kagen no Tsuki

Even now, several weeks later, I can still remember my first impressions of Kagen no Tsuki. The opening riff started and I thought "Oh hey, this is a cool sounding song." The verses breezed in, sound very reminiscent of Shoujo S. At this point, I was pretty pumped about Kagen no Tsuki. And then... the chorus hit. Look, I don't know any other way to put this... the chorus to Kagen no Tsuki is really lame. Which is really weird for me to say because very rarely do I listen to a song where the verses stand out more than the chorus. But I'm sorry, compared to the really awesome verses that were building to this really cool, explosive buildup of rock, the payoff is really, really underwhelming. I mean, I'm talking like Taiyou Scandalous and Pin Heel Surfer levels of lame. I wouldn't be so vocal about it if not for the fact that everything else about Kagen no Tsuki sounds awesome. I really can't emphasize just how much I liked the verses; they were so catchy and gave off this very cool vibe, misleading me to believe that Kagen no Tsuki would be a cool song.

But no, the chorus hits in and its all happy and flowy and breezy and ugh, it really drives me up the wall describing how much of a disappointment this chorus was. For me, I think the chorus should be the high point of the song, the second hook to grab you after a song's opening. It's what should get stuck in your head. Kagen no Tsuki's chorus does none of those things. Hell, I almost wonder if Scandal started recording one song then had to stop halfway through. Then realizing they had no chorus to mix in with the recording, they resorted to throwing together some lame, half-assed chorus that sounds about as boring and listless as Haruka. I mean, this is such a lopsided song. The sounds are all over the place, and not in a good way either. Don't get me wrong, when Kagen no Tsuki hits its good parts, they're really good. But then that goddamn chorus comes in to ruin everything and... God, I'll never forget the disappointment I felt when first listening to the song. Kagen no Tsuki isn't the worst Scandal song I've ever heard, but it could have been better. So much better.

In hindsight, I'm glad I didn't review the PV for Kagen no Tsuki, because honestly, it's kind of dull. It mainly just features the girls playing and... that's it. It's them playing. I mean, they go into separate rooms one at a time to play individually but they come back to the main stage anyways, so what's the point? Normally, I don't really mind Scandal's PVs where they just play, because they always managed to perform really wel as just a band. But not even that worked in Kagen no Tsuki. I think it's because their movements were restricted by having microphones. In PVs like Shoujo S and Shunkan Sentimental, the strength came from the girls being able to move around. I feel like in Kagen no Tsuki, they just look stuck. Combine that with the fact that there's nothing really creative in this PV, I was unimpressed.

The one little entertaining bit in Kagen no Tsuki is when Tomomi goes to play her bass in her own separate room. She's sitting on the couch and for some reason, the directors decided "You know what Tomomi needs for her close-up? A white rabbit! Not for any particular reason; we'll just have it hop around the couch while she ignores it!" So you get these scenes with Tomomi and this random white rabbit burying its head under the pillows and just moving all over the couch. Why? Who knows! I don't! We never even see the rabbit again until the end of the PV! I just find it really amusing for reasons unknown even to myself. I mean, yes the girls all look really pretty and the sets used for the PV don't look terrible but man, I think I'd even take Pin Heel Surfer's PV over this. At least that PV had a bunch of stuff in it I could make fun of. Kagen no Tsuki's PV does nothing to enhance the song. It does nothing to ruin it either, but a song like Kagen no Tsuki really could have improved had it been give na strong PV. But alas, it did not and this is what we are left with.

Kagen no Tsuki only gets three apples from me, and even then, I think that's a generous rating. This is probably the most divided song I think I've reviewed this year. Parts of it I like (such as the verses and instrumentals surrounding them) but other parts of Kagen no Tsuki (-cough- the chorus) are where the song loses momentum for me.

Kimi to Mirai to Kanzen Douki

And for the B-side we have Kimi to Mirai to Kanzen Douki, which translates to Perfect Synchronization with You and the Future. Nice title, huh? But how does the song itself hold up? I actually think I like Kimi to Mirai to Kanzen Douki better than Kagen no Tsuki. This B-side reminds me of something Scandal would release with a single from their earlier days, like Doll or even Shoujo S. I'm even reminded of Shoujo M a little bit during the chorus! I've noticed over the years that Scandal's music has evolved very slowly. They've always maintained a balance of pop and rock in their music, but that balance has more or less changed over the years. I feel like their earlier material from indies to around the end of the Temptation Box era was more dominantly rock with pop mixed in. Post-Temptation Box (around 2011) was when I feel Scandal's music started gradually including more pop elements than before. Kimi to Mirai to Kanzen Douki sounds like a much more refreshing throwback to some of their pre-Temptation Box material to my ears.

I actually first heard only two minutes of the song and thought that was the length of the entire song. Thank god the real song is longer, otherwise I'd be complaining! But honestly, I don't really have any complaints with Kimi to Mirai to Kanzen Douki. I think it has a very consistent beat, and very consistent energy levels. It's a nice breather from the energetically lopsided Kagen no Tsuki. Kimi to Mirai to Kanzen Douki doesn't really try for anything out of Scandal's comfort zone, but I still think it's a solid song. The chorus was catchy, and the vocals were decent as well. I actually think that this B-side might have been strong enough to use as the A-side for Kagen no Tsuki instead of the other way around... The only real con to Kimi to Mirai to Kanzen Douki is that it's a pretty safe song for Scandal. Luckily for Scandal, their musical equivalent of "safe" is a little bit better in terms of quality than some of the other groups I review. So if you're looking for a good ol' fashioned idol rock song, I'd give Kimi to Mirai to Kanzen Douki a listen!

As for now, I will give Kimi to Mirai to Kanzen Douki four out of five apples! I really enjoy listening to this song, even if it's not my favorite Scandal song. Its sound takes me back to their earlier days, and in a weird way, that's quite the breath of fresh air.

The Verdict

Well, that was Kagen no Tsuki and what do I think of it? Eh... it's all right? Hrm, where do I want to start with Kagen no Tsuki... I don't think Kagen no Tsuki was as consistent as Awanai Tsumori no, Genki de ne. Both tracks on Awanai Tsumori no, Genki de ne had about the same levels of quality, whereas the first rack on Kagen no Tsuki was all over the place, and the second track was a notch better. The single just didn't feel very cohesive. The A-side was not my favorite from Scandal, and what really got me is that it had the potential to be a pretty kickass rock song. But the chorus fell flat, and from there, the song just didn't work. It was like at some moments I was listening to a rock song and at other moments I was listening to a pop-rock song. Kimi to Mirai to Kanzen Douki fared better, sounding very reminiscent of the group's earlier material, but it's not exactly the most standout song Scandal has created. Still, it's catchy, and much more consistent than Kagen no Tsuki. A

ll in all, how much you like Kagen no Tsuki depends on what kind of sound you prefer from Scandal. If you like their smoother, less jagged type of sound that they've gravitated to in the past few years, I think you can get into Kagen no Tsuki. I will admit, I didn't hate listening to this entire single; there are just very apparent flaws with the songs that I have to pick out because that's just how I roll. So this is the second single of the Standard era, and I think it's a decent single. I am looking forward more to Over Drive though, especially because of the producer for that single. Until then, I guess Kagen no Tsuki doesn't fail completely as a single; I've just heard better from Scandal, and I'm expecting more from Over Drive than Kagen no Tsuki. Overall, I don't really know what to make of Kagen no Tsuki. I think I'm probably being a little too harsh on it, but the single isn't perfect either. But hey, that's the beauty of music, right? Not everyone has the same opinion of every song an artist releases. I guess I'd give my overall verdict as a rough around the edges but nonetheless an all right single entirely.

Hence I'll give Kagen no Tsuki 3.5 out of 5 apples. I was kind of teetering between 3.5 and 4, but in the end, I did decide to go a notch lower. While Kagen no Tsuki may not have jazzed me, I am excited to listen to Scandal's upcoming album. Will the album raise a higher opinion of me than this single? Only time will tell...

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