Monday, August 12, 2013

Let's Talk about Weather Girls

What? Oh no, I don't mean talk about Weather Girls as a group. Goodness no, that would take a much longer post with much more effort put into it. I'm here today to talk about the album the group released that just happens to share the same name as its respective group. Kinda confusing, huh? Especially when you're trying to find a DL link so you can listen to this album... Luckily, thanks to someone whose name I won't mention without consent, I have finally gotten a chance to listen to this entire album! Heh heh, and it only took me over a month. Yeah. Look, I've been busy all right!? School just started and I have to take my subjects seriously! I've had my eye on Weather Girls (the album; whenever I refer to "Weather Girls" in this review I'm probably referring to the album) for the past month now. I wasn't really planning on reviewing this album, but then I heard one track off the album that got me interested. I knew right then and there that I at least had to check out what the other songs on this album sounded like. And then when someone actually requested me to review the album (which is pretty awesome and very flattering!), I knew I was putting this on the review list, even if my backlog has been piling up lately. Besides, I do enjoy the musical output of Weather Girls, even if their last single was rather lackluster. Who knows? Maybe the album will make up for that! Grab your umbrellas, for we're about to dive into a whirlwind of idol music and bad weather puns! To the review!!!

1. Koi no Tenki Yohou

And so the album begins where it all began with Weather Girls. Koi no Tenki Yohou. Wow. Just listening to this song brings back all kinds of memories from late 2012. After all, if Koi no Tenki Yohou were never released, I probably never would have gotten into Weather Girls. But it was, and those of you who were gracious enough to follow the Wonderland last year probably remember me writing about it. I was trying to figure out why in the hell I loved this song so much. Well, I think now I've finally figured out why. Koi no Tenki Yohou is unashamedly the most sugary and pop-sounding idol song I've reviewed. But what makes it work is the sheer amount of energy put into the song, along with the vocals enthusiasm from the girls themselves. And how can you forget that perpetually catchy "Oh my- oh my- oh my gosh!" after the chorus? Koi no Tenki Yohou is the best kind of pop song, even a year later, it still holds up nicely!

My Rating:

2. Koi no Love Sunshine

Unfortunately, the next A-side on the album is my least favorite of the three A-sides during this era for the Weather Girls. A summer song, Koi no Love Sunshine is probably one of my leave favorite summer songs I've reviewed, along with the PV. Weirdly enough, the song sounded promising when I first heard the preview. But then I heard the whole song, and it was pretty underwhelming. I think while the chorus for Koi no Love Sunshine is very catchy and holds up well, the verses are where the song loses all the momentum it builds up in the chorus. I guess the verses aren't terrible, but they're forgettable, which can be even worse. I feel like I'm listening to two different songs that were somehow matched together with the level of skill possessed by Dr. Frankenstein. The energy levels dip up and down so quickly, and whenever I'm finished with this song, I never really can say I enjoy listening to it.

My Rating:

3. Koi no Lovebeam

And here we have the first new track of the album. Notice how it too follow the trend of having "Koi" in the title. I wonder if all the songs on this album start with Koi? Probably not, but I can't help but laugh because the title of this song would translate to "Lovebeam of Love" in English. Ah, redundancy. Well, anyways, as the first new track, how does this redundantly titled song hold up anyways? After the lackluster, Koi no Love Sunshine, Koi no Lovebeam is a nice pick me up in terms in energy. It's very upbeat and has some chanting/talking with style in in it, which gets a tad annoying at parts but not to the point where I dislike the song. For the most part, I think this is a good song, very Weather Girls-sounding. I like that it has consistent energy levels and it follows that sugar rush of pop sound that Weather Girls seems to excel in. It's not my favorite new song off the album, but hey, it's still a nice listen!

My Rating:

4. Koi wa Tokimeki Chuuihou

And we're back to A-sides! Ah, I remember reviewing Koi wa Tokimeki Chuuihou, the second A-side of this era way back in February. Or was it January? It was the beginning of the year... Anyways, I remember I really liked the video for this song, but my opinion of the song was rather mixed. I think my biggest problem with Koi wa Tokimeki Chuuihou was the arrangement. It wasn't arranged very well, and the transitions to each different part of the song felt very sudden. I think it's one of the few times where I felt like there was too much energy in the song. I think my ears got more used to the haphazardly scattered arrangement of the song over time, and I do like the chorus. I just feel like it would have worked if the song was a little more... orderly? It's like someone took a bunch of nice sounds and just threw them all against a wall and hoped they worked together. Still, I do like listening to Koi wa Tokimeki Chuuihou, especially in the right mood!

My Rating:

5. Chewing Gum

After Koi wa Toikimeki Chuuihou, the next few tracks are new tracks! Yayz! So Chewing Gum is a relatively short track (barely clocking over three minutes long), and it's one of the cutest tracks on the album. I don't know why, but it reminds me of Mickey, the one hit wonder from the 80s. I think it's the bounciness of the rhythm. Like Mickey, Chewing Gum also has the potential to get under my skin if I'm not in the right mood. As I've said before I can only handle so much peppy cuteness before I start feeling like my teeth are rotting, and Chewing Gum is a pretty cute song. You've got the repetitive chants in the instrumental bits, that "talking with style" that I love/hate, a lot of energy... the works. It does thrive as a pop song though, but Weather Girls seems to thrive on that cheesy pop sound in general. I don't know, I guess Chewing Gum is an all right song, but if I'm in a pissy mood, no way am I going to get near this song.

My Rating:

6. Kaminari Day

I listened to this song a couple of times trying to figure out just what problem I have with it before it finally hit me. Kaminari Day sounds exactly like an AKB48 song. Actually, I take that back. This sounds like a Not yet song. And they are an AKB48 unit, so yeah, it sounds exactly like an AKB48 song. Kaminari Day sounds like Pera Pera Perao and Suika Baby mixed together. Except it doesn't really have a hook unless you count the title drop at the beginning of the chorus. As a fan of Not yet, I'll admit Kaminari Day is an all right song, but I don't like it quite as much as the Not yet material it mirrors. I guess because Kaminari Day is teetering very closely to sounding generic. It's not quite there because the energy of the song saves it from reaching that point, but that doesn't mean it's my favorite song off the album. In fact, I'll probably skip Kaminari Day and just go listen to Suika Baby or Pera Pera Perao instead. Touch luck.

My Rating:

7. Cherry Cherry Boom Boom

Luckily, after the lackluster borefest that is Kaminari Day, we get to listen to Cherry Cherry Boom Boom! Despite the fact that Cherry Cherry Boom Boom sounds like a really bad stripper name, this song is my favorite off the album. Hell, I think it's my favorite Weather Girls song period. Even better than Koi no Tenki Yohou! Agh, where do I even start with what I like about this song... Well, I love the sound. It's like pop mixed in with Mideastern and rock and holy shit, I just love the instrumental of this song. There's this wonderful mesh of different sound styles all mixed into the song from the Mideastern riff during the Cherry Cherry Boom Boom repetition bits and the piano during the last chorus... This is such a cool song. I can't even properly convey through this review how awesome this song is. So whoever's reading this, do me a favor. Please listen to this song. Even if you don't listen to the rest of the album. I promise it's worth it.

My Rating:

8. Loving Pass ~Koi no Password~

So this is the only B-side that made the cut to the album, and I can't say I really miss the other two. I'm not exactly jumping up and down in anger that Tonight's Weather and Kimi Yohou didn't make it onto the album. Besides, Loving Pass ~Koi no Password~ is a pretty decent song. I mean, that creepy voice still opens the song, but Loving Pass ~Koi no Password~ is still a lot of fun to listen to! Maybe not quite as fun its A-side but I do like that it got on the album! I actually really like the arrangement of this song; there's a lot of diversity but it's doesn't feel as scattered as say, Koi wa Tokimeki Chuuihou's! I actually feel like Loving Pass ~Koi no Password~ has this almost... retro sound to it. Anyone else hear that? Like something out of the late sixties or early seventies. The song has this swinging feel to it which actually works very well. I guess the more I talk about it, I am glad that Loving Pass ~Koi no Password~ made it to the album!

My Rating:

9. Because of You -Hitori no Ame-

I swear to god, I have heard so many songs with "Because of You" in the title. I don't why... popular song title, I guess? Anyways, Because of You -Hitori no Ame- is a ballad. Big twist there, huh? Gives Shyamalan a run for his money. Okay, okay, sarcasm aside, how does Because of You -Hitori no Ame- fit on Nia's Scale of Ballad Forgettability? Well, while Because of You -Hitori no Ame- isn't Secret Base levels of memorable and passionate, it isn't Kono Machi (C-ute's version) levels of forgettable either. It's a pretty typical ballad, you've got your piano, your slow tempo, a few string melodies thrown into the instrumental, you know the schtick if you follow J-pop. But I still think Because of You -Hitori no Ame- still conveys a decent level of emotions and vocally, the girls of Weather Girls carry the song nicely. So is it an amazing ballad? By no means, but Because of You -Hitori no Ame- is still a nice song to listen to.

My Rating:

10. Namida no Ame

And closing out the album is what I thought was going to be a ballad but actually turned out to be a slightly more upbeat song. Which I don't mind because I'm never a huge fan of having two ballads back-to-back, especially at the end of the album. Unfortunately, Namida no Ame still isn't a very memorable song to go out on. I've listened to it a few times and I still can't remember much beyond a vague memory of the melody in the chorus. Look, I'm all for upbeat songs, but I prefer my upbeat songs to be really upbeat. Like head-bobbing, I-can-get-shit-done-with-this-kind-of-sound upbeat songs. Namida no Ame just one of those mildly happy-sounding songs that I probably won't remember in T-minus 2 days. I guess it's not a terrible song but the fact that the album ends on this song is underwhelming. I mean, if I listen to this album all the way through Namida no Ame is what I'm left with, and it's too weak of an album closer for me.

My Rating:

The Verdict

Weather Girls the album didn't have quite as many weather puns as I was anticipating... pity. Well anyways, how does the first album for Weather Girls hold up, hrm? I'll be honest, I think this album could have stood to have two or three more tracks. This was a relatively quick listen, only being ten tracks and all; I was able to listen to the entire album in roughly thirty-five minutes. I will say there was still a nice balance between old and new music with four songs from the group's past singles and six album songs. Of the four old songs, I have a pretty positive opinion of most of them, particularly Koi no Tenki Yohou. I still think it's the strongest A-side of this era for Weather Girls and one of the strongest tracks on the album. Koi wa Tokimeki Chuuihou is for the most part, an enjoyable song to listen to; same goes for Loving Pass ~Koi no Password~. Honestly, the only A-side on the album I could have done without is Koi no Love Sunshine, and even then I don't outright hate that song. So how do the new tracks hold up? As you might have gathered, my favorite new track is hands-down Cherry Cherry Boom Boom. Hell, that might be one of my favorite album songs I've reviewed this year.

Unfortunately, none of the other album tracks quite live up to the high bar that Cherry Cherry Boom Boom rests at. Kaminari Day and Namida no Ame aren't terrible tracks but both are highly unoriginal and rather forgettable. Chewing Gum and Because of You -Hitori no Ame- are decent tracks but again, nothing particularly special. And then Koi no Lovebeam is an enjoyable listen but nowhere near as distinct or instantly catchy as Cherry Cherry Boom Boom. So in conclusion... Weather Girls is an all right album, but I feel like it could have been better. The album doesn't branch toward any new territory for Weather Girls, and I would have liked to see some. Still, if you're looking for some light and fluffy pop songs to tide you over, this album has it in droves. I highly doubt Weather Girls is going to be my favorite album of 2013 (and that's not just because Level 3 is coming out) but I wouldn't call this a terrible album either. For the most part, it does play to the strengths Weather Girls has as a group: sugary-sweet pop music and high-level energy.

Hence I have calculated a rating of apples on my handy-dandy Apple Rating System based on my own personal enjoyment of this album. I have decided to bequeath upon Weather Girls three and a half out of five apples. I've heard better debut albums but this one isn't the worst either. It's a safe album brimming with energetic and vibrant pop music that doesn't stray too far from the norm. And that's not always a bad thing.

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