Thursday, October 31, 2013

Growing Up and Growing Dull

Is it just me or has Passpo been really underwhelming this year?

It's like their music and image have just gone... flat. Like a can of Coke that's been in the fridge way too long. They're barely using the gimmick that they started with now, and the music they've released this year has been... well, let's just say I've heard better from Passpo. Like Sakura Komachi was a decent single, but their next three singles have been... not as great as the ones from last year. Step & Go/Candy Room was pretty good, especially the latter of the two A-sides. Truly however, was really dull, and Mousou no Hawaii didn't exactly blow me away as either a summer song or a regular song. So what the hell is going on? Has the light just died from Passpo at some point or another or is this just a fluke? I don't know, but maybe, just maybe, we can explore this theory further by reviewing their most current single, Growing Up! From the looks of it, Growing Up is going to be the last single Passpo release before their album in December. I may or may not review the album, depending on my schedule in December, but I would at least like to take a look at Passpo's final single of 2013. Will this single prove that Passpo's growing up as a group or simply validate my theory that they're slowly fizzling out? We'll see.


Well... I guess the covers and outfits of Growing Up don't have much an impact on the overall quality of the single. But I still like to look at them anyways! As per formula, Passpo has their First Class, Business Class, and Economy editions for Growing Up. Did I ever mention I always like the way each single was structured? It's a nice deviation from the usual Limited A/B/C and Regular naming formula. Each cover has Passpo posing in a different way. In the First Class cover, they're sitting on suitcases. In the Business Class cover, they're kneeling. And in the Economy cover, they're standing! I'm pretty sure that wasn't intentional but I still found it to be kind of amusing. The girls take up most of the cover in each edition, so you can't really see the area they're posing in. It looks like in the First Class edition, they're sitting outside in a garden area. I think this cover's the nicest looking of the three since the foliage looks good against the outfits they're wearing.

The other two settings just wash the girls out. The Business Class edition has them posing inside, in front of a staircase. It's all right, not much you can really say about that. Same goes for the Regular edition; now they're just standing on stairs and you can see their lovely legs up close. Passpo's never exactly gotten the most creative covers, so the covers for Growing Up are about what you'd expect from them. They look nice, but they're clearly not meant to be a spectacle. Now what's interesting about the outfits for this single are that Masui Mio, an adorable member of Passpo, designed them! She also designed the outfits for Step & Go but that was way back in way back in May! And I love Mio but I have to admit... I don't really like the outfits for Growing Up that much. The fabric used on the dresses doesn't look very flattering; in fact, it looks kind of cheap. And the way the stripes are designed make the girls look like walking candy canes. And they're really simplistic and could stand to have a little more stuff going on with them. I know design is a difficult process and I commend Mio for doing it, but these outfits just aren't my taste.

Growing Up

I read that Growing Up was supposed to be the continuation/after song to Pretty Lie, one of Passpo's indie singles. Now I hadn't listened to Pretty Lie save for once, and that was a very long time ago. Obviously, it didn't leave much of an impression on me since I listened to it only once. Of course, since Growing Up is connected to Pretty Lie, I gave the song a listen again. And... it still doesn't rock my socks. I guess it's not a terrible song, but it's kind of boring. It's really slow and definitely drags at parts. I guess Pretty Lie is kind of a pretty song. Still, knowing that Growing Up was going to be an "after song" to Pretty Lie didn't leave me with a lot of enthusiasm for how it would sound. Like I don't think we need another Pretty Lie. Still, maybe Growing Up would be good! And it turns out this song is... all right. Much like Pretty Lie, it doesn't generate much of any strong reaction from me. Like... last year, I went crazy for Next flight. Same reaction for Wing. They generated such a strong opinion from me that I felt compelled to write about them. But with Growing Up?

Honestly, I feel more obligated to review this song than write about it because I truly want to. And the thing is it's not even a bad song. It's kind of pretty and has a very relaxed, calming beat. Growing Up is a more serious-sounding song from Passpo, so I guess why. I can't help but wonder if Growing Up is literally what the song is about. Is it meant to be a representation of Passpo evolving and growing as a group? Their singles-trilogy this year did revolve around that concept. I wouldn't be surprised if Growing Up was meant to follow that main trend. But if this is the kind of music they're going to put out from now on... I don't now how much longer I'll keep reviewing this group. Growing Up is a pleasant-sounding song, and I can see where the heart is. I think the emotions were in the right place in terms of vocals for this song, because a very sweet vibe is projected. It's just not enough for me to really invest an opinion for Growing Up. Overall, like most of Passpo's musical output this year, Growing Up is an all right song, but by no means a great song.

Well, maybe the PV for Growing Up leaves a better impression! Honestly, the PV for Growing Up reminds me a lot of the PV for Perfume's Macaroni. I've noticed a lot of idol PVs have reminded me of Macaroni actually... I guess the concept of that PV can be applied to a lot of idol PVs? Macaroni and Growing Up are both PVs that feature heavy filtering that make them look "vintage" and both PVs also consist of the members of each group wandering around the city. Of course, Growing Up has a little more of a storyline. But then again, that's compared to Macaroni, a PV with absolutely no plotline. I think the basic plot of Growing Up is all the girls of Passpo are getting nostalgic and they all meet at the stage where they perform and... friendship happens? I'm gonna assume friendship. That always seems to be the go-to theme for idol PVs. Yeah, most of the PV is focused on individual shots of each member of Passpo wandering around the city being all nostalgic and reflective.

I will admit, the scenery is very nice to look at, but I always enjoy looking at PVs that are shot outdoors. The PV for Growing Up isn't as creative as the PVs for Step & Go, Candy Room, and Mousou no Hawaii were but it matches with the laid-back tone of the song. And the end of the PV was kind of heartwarming, though for apparent reason. I guess it just felt like the girls' emotions were very genuine and honest. Maybe a little glossed over but still genuine. Much like the song, I don't feel like there's a lot I can say about the PV for Growing Up. I think the sentiment put into the PV is nice, but this really isn't my favorite PV in the world. It's not as poor as the PV for Truly was, but I like it better when Passpo does quirkier PVs. Still, if you want to see all the members of Passpo get equal screen time, Growing Up does a pretty good job of doing that! I think this was the first time I was able to see each member of the group individually and clearly. If you're a longtime fan of Passpo, the PV for Growing up might strike more of a chord with you, but for me it was simply an average idol PV.

I'll give Growing Up three out of five apples. It's an okay song, but nothing that special. It doesn't exactly break the streak of underwhelming singles that Passpo's been on lately. I was just about ready to give up on the group... but luckily I listened to the B-side of Growing Up.

Cosmic You

I'm really glad I decided to listen to the entire Growing Up single, otherwise I probably never would have known that Cosmic You existed! Funny, the last song I listened to was called Cosmic Love by Mizuki Nana... Okay, that's off topic! Anything with the word "cosmic" in it always brings to my mind images of the cosmos and deep space travel. So naturally, the title of this B-side intrigued me. I was personally hoping for an ethereal, sci-fi song that explored concepts of space and time travel. Then I realized this was an idol song and lowered my expectations from space opera to nice-sounding song with a sci-fi edge. And it turns out Cosmic You is an electropop song! So that's kind of science fiction-y... if you squint. Well... technically this B-side is more of pop-rock song with electropop sprinkled around in various parts. Mainly the instrumental. And a few of the vocal bits are Autotuned.

On my first listen, the opening vocals were a little jarring, but after that Cosmic You became a much more fun song. In fact, I like this song better than the A-side! It's much more fun and quite the breath of life after listening to Growing Up. Cosmic You brings out the more energetic, fun side of Passpo that I think has kind of been lacking in a lot of their recent singles. What I really like about this song is the blending of the guitar and the electronic edits mixed into it. You'd think the results wouldn't be very listenable, but it works very well! And it just adds to the fun-ness of the song! Cosmic You is such a happy, cheerful song, and it has such energy. It's like Passpo was injected with a shot of adrenaline and all the sudden became a lively group again! Cosmic You gives me hope that Passpo hasn't entirely fizzled out yet. It's such a solid B-side, with a very distinct sound that still fits the style of Passpo's music. It's a fun, rocking song that I personally wouldn't have minded to see as the A-side. If there's more music at the same quality level of Cosmic You on Passpo's upcoming album, I won't be complaining one bit! In fact... that would be pretty awesome.

Cosmic You gets four-and-half out of five apples from me. It really is a good B-side that not only contrasts with Growing Up but also exceeds the A-side's quality. With electropop meeting rock and producing glorious results, Cosmic You gives me hope for Passpo!

The Verdict

So. Growing Up as an overall single was kind of a mixed bag. I will say that neither of the two songs on this single were bad. Compared to some of the stuff I've listened to this year, this is absolutely fine. But that's kind of how I've been feeling about most of Passpo's singles this year. The only A-side I've really liked was Candy Room, and I think that's partially because of the awesome PV. Everything else ranges from good to forgettable. Growing Up falls somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. The A-side is definitely a more mature turn for Passpo, with a much more serious, almost nostalgic melody. I find it kind of amusing that Growing Up was actually composed three years ago, and the song was just reworked for a 2013 release. It makes me wonder if the producers just found the file lying in some obscure folder in their computer, thinking it had been lost a long a time ago! In the end, I don't care when Growing Up was composed; I care about whether or not it's a good song.

Like I said before, I think Growing Up does sound very heartfelt and meaningful. Other than that? Not much too it. In my opinion, Growing Up is an okay song, but that's it. It doesn't make me jump and down or make me want to tear down a building and start a riot. It's just a pleasant song to listen to. Cosmic You, the B-side brings a little more zest to the table. It's got an electronic sound to it that works very well and gives it a very distinct sound combining electric guitars with synthesizers and bleeps and bloops. Honestly, I would have preferred Cosmic You to be the A-side; it's much more interesting. But there are things that cannot be, and Growing Up cannot be a solid single. The A-side is sweet but forgettable, and the B-side is much more interesting but still a B-side. In the end, this single doesn't make me want to stop reviewing Passpo, but it doesn't make me that excited for their upcoming album. Still, I'll at least give Jet!Jet!Jet! a listen, even if I end up not reviewing the album. I think Jet!Jet!Jet! will be the true test of whether or not Passpo has lost its luster.

For now, I'll just rank Growing up with three and half apples out of five. This single reeks of average-ness with average covers, an average A-side, an average PV, and an above-average B-side that should have been the A-side.

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