Friday, December 27, 2013

Let's Talk about Jejejejet!!

You may as well call this review Passpo's last stand, because it's their last chance to show that they're still an interesting group to me.

Passpo, what happened to you? You used to be a group with such promise, such life and vivaciousness. When I reviewed your Airline Trilogy, I did so because I saw potential in you as a group! And I wanted to follow you and see you blossom and continue to release awesome music with an awesome gimmick. And yet in the past year, you have released a series of underwhelming A-sides with no clear style or direction. It's been a meandering collection of A-sides. Sakura Komachi doesn't hold much interest for me anymore, Step & Go is merely okay, Truly is absolutely dull, Growing Up is almost as dull as Truly, Mousou no Hawaii I don't care for that much, and the only good A-side has been Candy Room. Is this really the best you can do, Passpo? I'd like to think somewhere in there you guys still have a chance to be the great group I know you are! And with the release of your third album, Jejejejet!!, I think it is my duty as a fan and reviewer to see if there is anything worth salvaging off this album, any promise that you guys haven't completely fizzled out. If you do, then I will gladly stick around and hope that you release something great again. If not... I don't know what I'll do. With all these other great groups vying for my attention, I don't have room for idol groups that don't interest me. I do sincerely hope you haven't become one of those groups, Passpo. But the only way for me to truly find out is to go through your new album. So guys, fasten your seat belts and turn off all electronics, because we're boarding Nia's Review Jet and reviewing Jejejejet!!

1. Ignition

Isn't this the title of that Kikkawa Yuu song that was also an instrumental introduction to an album? Well, Ignition is an introduction song, and you all know how split I am about intro songs. However, I think Ignition is actually a pretty good intro. It's set up so that you feel like you're boarding a plane. One of the girls (probably Ai?) has some dialogue over the intro that's probably the equivalent of the dialogue you hear when you board a plane, like fastening your seatbelts, turning electronics off, if you've been on a plane, you know what I'm talking about! But that's not all of Ignition! After the dialogue, this sick guitar solo comes in! It's freaking awesome, like something I'd hear from Scandal! Ignition is only a two-minute intro, but those two minutes are packed with sweet, beautiful electric guitar and it totally rocks. Ignition did what I want intros to do and got me excited to hear the rest of Jejejejet!! But did the rest of the album keep up the momentum?

My Rating:

2. Baby Jump ~Tengoku e no Toujoubin~

All right, the first actual song on Jejejejet!! is a B-side from Truly. Now I haven't listened to any of the B-sides from Truly because I'm lazy, so this was my first time listening to Baby Jump ~Tengoku e no Toujoubin~. And all I have to say is why wasn't this the A-side!? This song was ten times more interesting and energetic than Truly was! Baby Jump ~Tengoku e no Toujoubin~ is ten times more rocking than Truly is and has fitfy times more energy than Truly. This is the kind of music I wanted to hear more from Passpo's singles this year! It has all the upbeat energy that makes Passpo such an awesome group, and also incorporates that pop-rock sound that works so well for them! Actually, I think Baby Jump ~Tengoku e no Toujoubin~ is more rock than pop at times! Not that I mind. I love rock music, especially idol rock music! Even though Baby Jump ~Tengoku e no Toujoubin~ is a B-side, I think it's a great song to kick off the album!

My Rating:

3. Beast in You

So Beat in You starts off pretty seriously with some serious strings of seriousness. I don't know why, but the first part of Beat in You reminds me of Kalafina's Magia... Anyways, Beast in You is a pretty intense-sounding song like... holy shit, this is about as close to hard rock as Passpo's gotten to since Wing. The beat is pounding throughout the entire song and there's just this air of... danger to the song. I guess that makes sense with song being called Beast in You! There are a few parts where the song does sound revert more to Passpo's default pop-rock upbeat sound, which does make Beast in You a tad disjointed at parts. But even then, that doesn't take away a ton of enjoyment of this song. I really like the sound of Beast in You. I like how intense and frantic the song sounds, and I like that it's more rock than pop-rock. Even if it has a few hiccups, Beast in You is still a really refreshing sound to hear from Passpo again!

My Rating:

4. Sakura Komachi

Ah, here's the first A-side of the Jejejejet!! era! Back in February, I gave this song a pretty positive review, along with an apple rating of four and half apples. But I think after the review, this song grew old with me really fast. I think it's still a pretty decent song, but I don't know, something about Sakura Komachi makes it really hard to listen to. Like the minor key of the chorus is just kind of... abrasive? I'm not sure if that's the right word to describe it. And then there are parts when the girls sound like they're whining, and Sakura Komachi ends up not having much re-listen quality. The first time I listened to Sakura Komachi, it was enjoyable. But it's like every time I listened to it after that, the quaity just kep dipping and dipping downward. Now I simply think Sakura Komachi is an all right song, but listening to it on Jejejejet!! is underwhelming, especially after the amazing Baby Jump ~Tengoku e no Toujoubin~ and Beast in You.

My Rating:

5. Onegai

Luckily, Onegai starts to pick up the slack left by Sakura Komachi. But this is also a song that takes a bit of time to get into. I'm not sure who opens Onegai, but she doesn't exactly have the strongest voice. It's probably Mio. Anyways, when Onegai started and I heard that voice, I was thinking "Okay, this is gonna be a cute song." But then the instrumental kicked in, and things started to rock! Still, Onegai is a pop-rock song with more pop than rock in it. But I still kind of like Onegai. It reminds me of one of those nostalgic Scandal songs like Harukaze or Bright. I think I would have liked if Onegai was a bit more upbeat, since it does drag at a few parts. I think if the tempo had been picked up, Onegai would have sounded like a Whiteberry song! In its current state though, Onegai is still a pretty decent song! The guitar is nice, and the vocals get better after the opening solo. It's not my favorite track on the album, but it's still pretty good!

My Rating:

6. Step & Go

Ah, here's Step & Go. The first of two A-sides kicking off Passpo's singles trilogy from this year. I remember finding Step & Go to be an okay Passpo song when I first reviewed it, and that opinion hasn't changed much. I think Step & Go is a little on the generic side of Passpo; it's their typical pop-rock sound they seem to always default back to. Not a bad "generic" mold compared to some generic song types I've had to sit through, but Step & Go still doesn't stand out very much among their discography. I've definitely heard better Passpo songs, but at least Step & Go has some energy. And it is kind of catchy. I don't know, there isn't a lot about Step & Go that stands out to me, but it isn't a difficult listen either.  It'll probably be one of those A-sides that I just kind of forget about and vaguely remember as a song that Passpo recorded. If you like the poppier side of Passpo, then Step & Go's pretty decent!

My Rating:

7. Kibun wa Saikou! Saikou! Saikou!

So the beginning of this song sounds like it's going to be a really upbeat, cheerleader-style idol song with a call-and-response chorus. But then the guitar kicks in and Kibun wa Saikou! Saikou! turns into a serious rock song! It ends up sounding less like a cheerleader song and more like a fight song! You know, those songs at sporting events where a team has a really serious, energetic song that gets the crowd excited! I think Kibun wa Saikou! would make a wonderful fight song! Pity they're not ambassadors for the Olympics... Anyways, Kibun wa Saikou! Saikou! Saikou! is a bombastically energetic song. Even the parts where the girls are cheering are a lot less annoying than you think they'll be. Although, they're not my favorite parts in the song. Nonetheless, Kibun wa Saikou! rocks! Like I'm so pleasantly surprised by how hardcore Kibun wa Saikou! Saikou! Saikou! sounds, especially since it has such a misleading opening!

My Rating:

8. Mousou no Hawaii

Back in August, I found Mousou no Hawaii to be okay. I still find it to be okay. My biggest gripe with Mousou no Hawaii is the chorus drags. You'd think it wouldn't since the instrumental is so upbeat and energetic, but this chorus is dragging slower than all of AKB48's singles this year! In fact, I think the entire vocal arrangement for Mousou no Hawaii could have been a lot stronger. I mean, the song is about wanting to go to Hawaii, but the girls don't sound like they're jumping up and down wanting to to Hawaii! Is going on a vacation just a lot more excruciating for idols? I do like the instrumental of the song; it's got some nice ukelele in the opening and ending of the song, and the rest of the instrumental sounds very much like a rock song. The one thing that I do like about Mousou no Hawaii are the lyrics. They're pretty relatable for anyone with wanderlust! Everything else about Mousou no Hawaii is simply okay.

My Rating:

9. Shang Shang Chandelier

This is a pretty cool song. Like I was a little unsure when I first heard Shang Shang Chandelier, but over time, I've really come to like this song! What I really like about Shang Shang Chandelier is the instrumental; it's a lot like Berryz Koubou's Golden Chinatown, except the girls of Passpo don't sound bored to tears singing this song. That Shanghai-esque sound combined with Passpo's typical rock sound make Shang Shang Chandelier a really interesting listen. It kind of reminds me of a song Passpo would do for the Airline Trilogy. Maybe they can do an Airline Trilogy 2014 and have this song on it? That would be awesome! I liked that Shang Shang Chandelier offered a slightly different sound for Passpo that worked really well. I think the vocals are great for this song too! Whoever leads (I think it's Ai?) sounds really nice in this song. Honestly, Shang Shang Chandelier might be my favorite new track of Jejejejet!! It's just so cool!

My Rating:

10. Candy Room

Ah, here's the one A-side from the entire era that actually attempts to be interesting! Candy Room is such a fun song. It's really catchy and there's a lot of energy in the vocals and oh, this is such a breath of fresh air compared to every other A-side from this era. Like seriously, why wasn't the rest of this era filled with songs like Candy Room!? Candy Room has all the energy that's been missing from Passpo for the past year and is also a really fun and playful song. It's Passpo at their most pop-rock, and the song is absolutely catchy. The production is great, the vocals, are great, and did I mention the PV? The PV for this is totally freaking awesome. Candy Room was so much better of a summer song than Mousou no Hawaii! Candy Room isn't my favorite Passpo song, but in this era, it is my favorite A-side. If you're into the more pop side of Passpo's music, I'd listen to Candy Room. It's the perfect combination of pop and rock for them.

My Rating:

11. Kucha Love

Following the bouncy fun of Candy Room is Kucha Love an equally bouncy and fun song. Kucha Love is a little more rock than pop compared to Candy Room, but of the new tracks on Jejejejet!! it's still one of the more pop-rock tracks. Not that this is a bad thing! I love when Passpo goes pop-rock. Kucha Love is a pretty happy song but not ecstatically happy. Again, it kind of reminds me of that laid back, nostalgic sound I've heard on several Scandal songs. This probably isn't my favorite track on Jejejejet!! but I think Kucha Love is still a pretty good song. It's got a nice tempo, the vocal arrangement is nice, and it does play to Passpo's musical strengths. I wouldn't expect anything that new from Kucha Love, but if you're just wanting to hear Passpo at their most Passpo-y, I think Kucha Love will be suited to your needs! Personally, I enjoyed Kucha Love, and it's miles better than the A-sides featured on Jejejejet!! anyways!

My Rating:

12. Truly

Eugh, this song. There is a reason that Truly is the only Passpo PV that I didn't review this year. It's boring. To be fair, Truly isn't a terrible song. There are a few nice parts of the song, and the general sound is decent. But there's just not that much to talk about in it. The girls sound nice, the song sounds nice, but ugh, trying to talk about this song is like trying to talk about a tube of toothpaste. I can only say so much before I start repeating myself! What I think bothers me most about Truly is this lack of... heart. When I listen to Truly, none of the girls sound that into it. There are even parts where they sound downright flat. I think maybe if there was a little more emotion in this song, it would be better. The closest emotional part is the chorus, but even after a few times around, that starts to lose its heart. Again, this isn't a horrible song or anything, there's just nothing that memorable about it. I'd skip it.

My Rating:

13. Mask

If there is any song that lifts me out of the depths of boredom Truly dragged me into, it's Mask! This song totally rocks. Actually, I feel like Mask could work as an anime theme song. Like maybe an opening? I don't know, I haven't watched a lot of anime, but the anime songs I've listened to sound a lot of like Mask. But that isn't a bad thing! What I love about Mask is that it gets me pumped to do stuff! I don't know what kind of stuff, but when I play Mask, I just want to get stuff done! Like finishing an album review! I also like that Mask is one of the more hardcore rock songs from Passpo. I feel like I was really missing that side of Passpo's music this year, so songs like Mask and Beast in You are extremely refreshing to my ears. Other than that, I have no real complaints with Mask. I think the energy is great, the instrumental is great, really the song overall packs such a punch! Another one of my favorite new tracks off Jejejejet!!

My Rating:

14. Wish on a Star

Here we have another B-side that made it to the album. And it's another B-side I haven't heard! Although upon listening to it, I think I need to start paying more attention to Passpo's B-sides. They all have the tendency to be so much more interesting than their fellow A-sides! I mean, Cosmic You was better than Growing Up, Baby Jump ~Tengoku e no Toujoubin~ was better than Truly... is this going to become a trend with Passpo? When I read the title for this song, I immediately thought of the song from Pinocchio! In actuality, Wish on a Star actually sounds like something I could hear from Zone... well, if Zone was still around. I love Zone, so the sound of Wish on a Star is totally awesome for me! It is definitely one of the more subdued songs on Jejejejet!! but after the super energetic Mask, Wish on a Star is a nice step down without being total whiplash into something slower and duller. Overall, another very nice pop rock song!

My Rating:

15. Growing Up (Album version)

Okay, either I completely forgot how the original Growing Up sounds, or there are barely any differences between the single version and the album version of Growing Up. I think if I had the interest to do so, I could distinguish both, but I don't care for Growing Up that much. As a "sequel song" to Pretty Lie, I think it just sounds really boring. I mean, Pretty Lie isn't a song that I thought exactly needed a sequel. I mean, I know the song is supposed to be about Passpo growing up and moving on to better things, so I think their heart was in the right place when they made this song. But even if the intentions were good with this song, good intentions don't stop a song from being boring. And for me, Growing Up doesn't have much going for it. Is it terrible? No, even worse: Growing Up is so okay it's average. I'd much rather listen to a horrible song I can write about than an average song I can't write much about, and unfortunately Growing Up is the latter.

My Rating:

16. 「I」

And closing out Jejejejet!! is... another B-side! Yeah, the last bit of this album really doesn't have a lot of new material does it? Still, this was another B-side I hadn't heard, so it's kind of like a new song for me! 「I」came off of Step & Go/Candy Room. And honestly, I think it's a pretty great song. It kind of reminds me of Tokyo Girls' Style's Get the Star. It's just as uplifing as that song, and has all the rock that song had as well. And as a closing song, I think 「I」fits really well. The song has this  very triumphant sound to it, and I think that sound really works as a great way to close Jejejejet!! Using 「I」as the final song leaves a great impression on me for the end of the album. The song has tons of energy and I think perfectly shows just how great Passpo can be. Do I wish an original song had closed the album? That would have been nice, but I think 「I」is still a really great song to close the album with.

My Rating:

The Verdict

Okay, how is it that every song on Jejejejet!! is better than Passpo's A-sides? The B-sides are better, the original tracks are better, hell, even the intro track is better! I'll admit, going into Jejejejet!! I was not that excited, nor did I hold a lot of hope that this would have any standout tracks in it. But instead, this album had several standout tracks. Beast in You, Shang Shang Chandelier, and Mask are three really strong Passpo songs. And the rest of the new songs are strong too! In fact, there wasn't a single new song that I disliked. Sure, not every new song was a gift from the heavens, but all the new album tracks played to the strengths of Passpo: their pop-rock sound, their energy, their vocals, everything the A-sides screwed up, these new songs fixed. Speaking of those A-sides, all of them except Candy Room were pretty underwhelming. It's not like any of those A-sides were outright terrible, but they just didn't have any spark to them. For that reason, I couldn't get that excited for Jejejejett!! I thought that the rest of the album would have just as much lifelessness as these boring A-sides. But the album doesn't! The album really doesn't! But those A-sides are still there on the album, and I can't just magically wish them away. So as much as I'd love to say this album is freaking awesome, Jejejejet!! is hindered by the obligatory inclusion of those really dull A-sides. However, you could still remove Sakura Komachi, Step & Go, Mousou no Hawaii, Truly, and Growing Up, and this album would still be pretty long. Still, them being there is kind of like Perfume's Mirai no Museum being on Level3: unnecessary but there's no way of getting around it. Other than that though, every other song on Jejejejet!! is really good. Even the B-sides included fit right into the more rockish sound of Jejejejet!! Honestly, this sounds like the kind of album that Scandal would release. No, I'm not trying to say Passpo is Scandal, but a lot of the music on Jejejejet!! I could easily hear Scandal playing. Overall, hats off to you Passpo for not screwing up this album! 

Even though the album does have its flaws, I can still give Jejejejet!! four out of five apples. In fact, I think this is probably my favorite Passpo album. It's better than One World at least! Even though the A-sides don't work very well, every other track on this album has all the best sounds of Passpo that I love. That perfect blend of pop and rock makes Jejejejet!! such a strong album. And I can happily say that Passpo is not dead! If they can just release more music like the songs off Jejejejet!! they'll be an interesting group again!


  1. I'd have bought the entire album had someone not screwed up the bass levels. As it is the bass guitar is much too dominant in the mix, drags down the vocals, and leaves the whole affair sounding dreadfully claustrophobic. Words can't express how disappointed I am, I could cry! Compare the impeccable single mix of Growing Up to the muddy album version to hear what I'm moaning about. Or don't. If you like the album well enough it's probably best to leave it.

    1. I didn't notice the bass levels that much... Well maybe a little bit, but not that much. Either way it didn't bother me! I'm sorry it bothered you though...