Thursday, September 19, 2013

1mm Closer to Level3

All right, how is it that my poll for which summer PV of 2013 was your favorite ended with the joke option being the one that won the poll? I mean, I had twelve lovely summer PVs you could pick from and the option that got the most votes was "None of these. I'm just waiting for Level3." 

Maybe I underestimate how many Perfume fans read my blog...

Then again, I'm also waiting for Level3. Anxiously too. But I'd like to think I'm not the only Perfume fan slowly losing her grip on her sanity as the release date for Level3 gets closer and closer. I mean, the album is coming out in two weeks. Two weeks. At the moment, they seem like the longest two weeks in the world, but that might just be because of my abysmal school schedule. Still, I really don't think I've properly emphasized just how big of a deal it is that Perfume's releasing an album. I mean, yeah, of course it's a big deal for me because I'm a huge fan of Perfume but even then, it's still a huge deal. Why? Because Perfume isn't a group that releases albums on a regular basis like a lot of the other idol groups I review. So when they do get around to releasing an album, it feels like a sacred delicacy you have to savor because you're not going to get something else like it for another year at least. Their pattern of releases isn't so formulaic that I can pinpoint when Y single is released and when X album will come out. Frankly, I never know.

I can estimate that they release an album about every two years, but the fact that their album releases are that spaced out is what makes Level3 such a highly-anticipated album from me. Hell, I even have a countdown on the side of my blog! Even if this album turns out to be Perfume's worst album (which I hope that won't happen), I still think the wait has to be worth it. And now I know that at least one of the new album tracks on Level3 isn't going to suck: 1mm. A rip of 1mm has been out for awhile, and just recently it was released as a "promotional" single on iTunes and other international sites for downloading music! Pretty cool, especially if you're like me and live in 'Murica. I think going ahead and releasing 1mm as downloadable content before the rest of Level3 is a smart marketing move. I mean, it is the lead track off the album, and a song that I think will get people interested in listening to this entire album. And with the international release of 1mm and Level3 being 2 weeks away from release, what a better time to review its PV than now?

Of course, I think I should most definitely talk about 1mm before delving into the PV! I mean, you guys know my schtick by now: I like to review the song first, do my little screencap, then review the PV, and give the final product some apples! I guess technically I've already given a few of my thoughts on 1mm; I talked a little bit about the song in my fangasm of a news post about Level3. I think one of the most important features about 1mm is that it is a promotional track. This is the song that was thought to be the most marketable along with being the best representation of Level3 as a whole. That's why I wish I had the entire album right now; I wish I could state whether I think 1mm works as a song that represents the full album. But that's not a judgement I can make until Level3 comes out. Oh, if only I were one of those journalists who received copies of albums in advance to review them! Then again, I'd probably have to be an adult with with that pesky little thing called a college degree and stuff but that's beside the point. I review stuff! That surely qualifies me for an album, right? Right!? Ah well, I'll live.

So while I can't decide at the moment whether 1mm is a song that best represents Level3, I can compare it to Perfume's past promotional tracks: I Still Love U, Secret Secret, and Perfect Star Perfect Style. And then for some odd reason JPN didn't really have a promotional track... Anyways, one feature that all three of those promotional tracks have is that I freaking love them. Especially Secret Secret and Perfect Star Perfect Style. Hell, Secret Secret's my favorite track off Game period. I Still Love U is also a really good track, even if my love for it isn't quite as strong as Secret Secret and Perfect Star Perfect Style. What also makes these tracks such great Perfume songs is how well they represent their respective albums. Secret Secret was that perfect balance of soft and edgy prevalent in the entire Game album. I Still Love U had those sleek, heavily electronic sounds that were basically the foundation of the ⊿ album. And even though Perfect Star Perfect Style was from a compilation album, it still sounded like the send-off Perfume had for that era in their career.

So when you really think about it, 1mm kind of has a lot to live up to!

I'll touch more on that aspect of 1mm when Level3 is actually released though. For now, it's gotten me interested as to just what the general sound of the album is going to be. On its own, how does 1mm hold up? Like I said before, I really like this song. It kind of sounds like a mix of Macaroni, I Still Love U, and Fushizen na Girl. Then again, I think there are a lot of Perfume songs that borrow sounds from each other, sort of like one giant web of Perfume sounds. 1mm is one of the slower tempo songs of Perfume's discography, but nowhere near as slow as say 575 or Negai. I actually really like the pacing of this song; I wouldn't say it's upbeat per say, but the constant tempo it maintains isn't too fast or too slow. I almost want to say that 1mm is a more serious-sounding Perfume song but not as much as Game or edge. It definitely sounds harder than the JPN songs, but it's still on the pretty raw side of Perfume's music.

I guess they've just been progressively using less and less vocal editing over the years so I think 1mm follows that trend of more clear-sounding vocals where you can actually tell which girl's singing which part. The sound of 1mm really makes me wonder what the rest of Level3 is going to sound like. The girls themselves said it's their most "dance-able" album, but 1mm doesn't sound like a very dance-able song. I mean, even if I had the ability to dance without looking like one of those trees from Evil Dead, I still don't think I'd really listen to 1mm and think "WOW! What a great song to dance to! I'm gonna make some choreography right now!" But it does make me think that Level3 will be a continuation of the smoother more natural sounds of JPN with a little more technopop thrown into the mix. Time will tell how Level3 turns out (2 weeks time to be exact!), but for now, I think 1mm will suffice as new content. I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I really like this song. I like the general sound, I think the flow is really nice, Nakata's production is sleek and efficient as always. It makes me wonder what the other tracks on the album will sound like...

Now what's more fun than screencapping a Perfume PV? You tell me; I've yet to find something! Well, seeing them in concert would be pretty fun... but until that's actually feasible, let's just look at the PV for 1mm!

The PV begins with the girls walking through what I assume is a transparent mirror maze!

Actually it's the set used in the Regular cover for Level3 but hey, either works for me!

Of course, Perfume does what any sane person would do surrounded by clear panels: dancing!

To be fair, the dance for 1mm is very well-done, as to be expected from Perfume.

I love the geometric patterns in the outfits for Level3 and I still love them in this PV!

But I have to admit, I like the white outfits just a teensy bit better...

I love how the lyrics to 1mm are edited into the PV, or I assume those are the lyrics. I doubt that's a translation of George Orwell's Animal Farm, right?

And you gotta love those color-changing panels!

They kind of remind of the rooms in One Room Disco... only pastel.

Is that... Kashiyuka's forehead? Has it resurfaced after all these years!?

Oh, the fringe is back. I keep wondering if Kashiyuka will ever let those bangs grow out.

I think I like Nocchi's outfit the best. It's the sleeves that give it flare!

Oh hey, look how each member is standing behind a color panel...

...that mirrors their group colors when they first started out! I'm not sure if that was intentional.

As nice as this set is, I kind of wish the girls could do something other than stand around.

In this shot, they're interacting with the set more and using it for the dance.

In fact, I really want to see this entire dance performed live; the bits shown in the PV look great!

Although I'm not sure how they'd incorporate the panels onto the stage...

The Forehead has returned! Bow to your knees in its glorious presence!

A-chan belts her solo while Nocchi plots how to take over the world...

Man, wouldn't it be cool if all the panels just like shattered? I mean... it's be dangerous but still cool!

Again, I feel like they need something to do.

Besides walking around.

I love when Perfume's choreography does that thing where one members starts moving then the other follows (although it's difficult to screencap).

It just occurred to me how hard it must be to dance in such a constrained area! I'd be worried I'd bump into one of those panels!

Finally! They're doing something in this shot!

Love this dance move. I don't know why. I guess it just looks very sharp!

Oooh, I like this lighting! I wish they'd used it more in the PV!

Would you look at that? The panels spell Level3! If you tilt your head at several angles...

Okay, you guys know that I'm a huge fan of Perfume, and that I always tend to enjoy their music videos, even the bad ones. They usually get some really creative PVs and amongst all the other idol groups I review like Hello! Project it's very refreshing. But on the Wonderland, I'm a reviewer before I am a fan, and I try to review content as objectively as possible. That means Perfume is not exempt from my criticism, as I've demonstrated in a few past reviews. So you're not gonna believe this but... I don' think 1mm is a great Perfume PV. I don't hate the PV, but I've seen much better from Perfume when it comes to their music videos. Don't get me wrong, it's a lot better than many other idol PVs I've reviewed, but for Perfume, it falls on that mediocre part of the scale. It's a notch above PVs like Glitter but nowhere near as interesting as love the world, Natural ni Koishite, Voice, Electro World, Spring of Life, Laser Beam, One Room Disco- okay, a lot of Perfume PVs, let's just leave it at that.

Before I get into why I don't think this is an amazing PV, I do want to go over the aspects of the PV that I liked. 1mm's PV had good production values and while the set is simplistic, it looks very sleek and polished, almost futuristic. I like the inclusions of the panels too, and the fact that they changed color in one shot. Not to mention the fact that they spelled out Level3 if you were looking down from above! I thought that was a very clever visual trick, even if the letters were a little hard to spot at first. And one of my favorite elements of the PV was the dance! I feel like I always kind of expect a really top-notch dance from Perfume, and usually they always deliver! I really love the fast choreography of 1mm, and it matched in a very weird way with the tempo of the song. I also liked that it included more leg movements since Perfume's dances tend to lean towards more upper body-type dances. It was very interactive with the panels used in the PV, and every time the dance shots came up in the PV, I was always engaged!

All right, positive stuff out of the way, where does 1mm fall short? See what I did there? Since mm is a metric system unit and... and... Okay, okay, I'll talk about what I didn't like. What I think was the biggest downfall of the PV for 1mm was the lack of activity. Beyond the dance, the girls themselves don't do much in this PV beyond walking around and standing during parts of the song. And I can't believe I'm saying this, but I felt like there were even some parts of the PV where the girls actually looked kind of awkward. Like when they were standing still during one of the choruses, that just felt so awkward. I don't know why since the girls normally look very relaxed but confident in their PVs so... yeah, I don't know where that came from. Then again, I guess I'd start to feel a little awkward too if I had to spend four minutes trying to look engaged with what's essentially a bunch of windows. The color-changing panels, like I said before, are a very cool setup for the PV. I like use of kanji being edited into the PV as well.

However, I feel like the producers relied on both those effects a little too much in the hopes that they'd make the PV really engaging. Unfortunately, they were really interesting at first, but after about the 2 minute mark, they started to get a little dull. Because while both made for great effects, they're not interesting enough to carry the PV. The PV for 1mm reminds me a lot of One Room Disco in terms of setup: basically one isolated set that the girls have to interact and dance in. But what made One Room Disco work that 1mm is lacking in is interesting ideas and actions that give character and life to the PV. The PV for 1mm is far too neutral and basic. It's a simple PV that isn't terrible, but by no means is it a great PV either. Then again, I kind of had the same reactions towards the PVs for Fake It and I Still Love U, both of which were promotional tracks for their respective albums. I don't know, but this PV is meant to market the album, and in that respect, it gets its job done. For me, I'll just wait until the next Perfume PV pops up for something with a little more spark.

So I really like the song for 1mm, and even though the PV isn't the most fantastic I've seen from Perfume, I'm still gonna give 1mm three and half apples! Maybe it's just pre-album jitters that have me in such a good mood, but 1mm is a very calming and nice song, and the PV matches it in tone. Although I wish there'd been a little more going on in the PV for 1mm, it's still worth a watch if you're an avid fan of Perfume! Now all we can do is sit patiently and wait for Level3! Which is easier said than done...

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