Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Time Capsule Reviews: GAME

Oh yeah, it's back. Grab your sonic screwdriver, because we are going back in time.

How long has it been since my last Time Capsule Review? A year? Well, I want to bring this back! Why? Because I missed doing this, and I think a few readers missed it too. I will say though that Time Capsule Reviews are going to be a little more different than they were a year ago. For one thing, it's not restricted just to Perfume music videos. Okay, I know that this is a Perfume review, but I will open Time Capsule Reviews to other idols, both active and disbanded. Speaking of which, criteria for monthly Time Capsule Reviews has also changed. Instead of drawing names out of a hat, I've decided to review something that was released the same month I'm doing that Time Capsule Review. For example, Perfume released GAME April 16, 2008, so that's why it's going to be my April Time Capsule Review. That being said, if you have any old releases you'd like me to review that fall within a certain month, just drop it by me via commenting, email, Twitter, etc.! For now though, I'm just gonna have a poll with five or six old releases each month, and you guys can vote on which one you want me to review! I'll keep the poll up for the first half of the month, then close it to start reviewing the release that got the most votes. And if no one votes... I'll just pick then! Yay! Everyone wins!

But I am picking the first new Time Capsule Review. Why? Because it's Perfume's GAME, and a GAME review is long overdue on the Wonderland.

Look at that album cover. Such finesse, such class, such quality. To think that this album was released six years ago. Has time really gone by so quickly? I'm just gonna go ahead and say that I love GAME. It still stands as my favorite Perfume album and one of my favorite albums in general. And a lot of Perfume fans also have GAME as their favorite Perfume album. Why though? What makes GAME such a great album in comparison to Perfume's other three albums? Is it nostalgia or is GAME just a genuinely great album that showcases the best of Perfume? Well considering this blog basically exists because of Perfume, I think it's more than overdue that I pay tribute to their first original album, the one that also happens to be my favorite. As of now, GAME is still Perfume's best-selling album, and I think it rightly deserves to be. There's a great variety of songs on the album, and if you're interested in getting into Perfume, then I enthusiastically recommend listening to GAME. I will warn you, most of this review is just me gushing over Perfume, but it's not like you guys aren't used to that. Enough of this intro, let's play the game. The review game. That sounded a lot more clever in my head...

1. Polyrhythm

Opening the album is the song that started it all. I feel like it's almost pointless to talk about Polyrhythm since it's without a doubt Perfume's most well-known song. I will admit that over the past few years, Polyrhythm can feel a little overplayed. It's what Love Machine was to Morning Musume, so Perfume has a tendency to perform it a lot, along with one other song on this album. But overplaying aside, does that diminish the value of Polyrhythm? ...I don't think so. Because when I sit down and listen to Polyrhythm again, it's still a great song. The buildup into the chorus is great, and the best part of the entire song is that polyrhythmic bridge. I highly recommend watching a live performance of Polyrhythm just so you can see the girls dance to that bridge. Polyrhythm is iconic in Perfume's discography, but still stands the test of time as a great song. And seeing how it was Perfume's first single to make it big, I think it's the perfect song to open GAME.

My Rating:

2. Plastic smile

And immediately the next song on GAME is an album song! I remember first listening to Plastic smile and thinking it was going to be really robotic for some reason. It's actually not; Plastic smile is a very cheerful song. The English in the lyrics is, "Crack a smile, come up smile, flash a smile, plastic smile." They're very catchy! I'm not sure if that was deliberate or Nakata looking for works with the same vowel structure as plastic smile, but hey, very cheerful! Actually, what I like about Plastic smile is the dissonance between the lyrics and the music. Plastic smile is one of the most upbeat songs GAME, but the lyrics are about discontent and stagnancy within a relationship. For such a cute song, the lyrics make Plastic smile kind of depressing! But I still enjoy the song a lot; the chorus in particular is a lot of fun to sing along to! I could actually see this song being used in a commercial, and it may have been. Either way, Plastic smile is a neat song and one of my favorites off of GAME.

My Rating:


Before edge, GAME was Perfume's closest song to having the darker and trancier sound that made edge such a popular song. While edge is my favorite Perfume song, GAME also comes very close to the top of that list. I really like the placement of this track on GAME. Polyrhythm and Plastic smile are both great tracks, but they're also very upbeat songs. GAME on the other hand is an edgy dance song that features much more minimal lyrics than either of those first two songs. The contrast adds a nice variety to GAME. Also, this song makes for one sick live performance. I mean... not that I would know... I just watched the performance from Tokyo Dome online, but from that alone, I could tell that GAME is an awesome song live. And the song itself has such a great buildup into the chorus; I can hear the instrumental just get harder and louder until it reaches the chorus. The chorus of GAME is simple but effective, and overall, GAME (the song) is a powerful listen all the way through.

My Rating:

4. Baby cruising Love

After GAME, Baby cruising Love slows things down. I wouldn't say Baby cruising Love is a ballad, but the tempo is slower than most of the other songs on GAME. I don't know why, but I never know what to say when I talk about Baby cruising Love. Of all the A-sides on GAME, I find it to be one of the weaker ones. Not that it's a bad song, but in comparison to Polyrhythm and Macaroni and Chocolate Disco, Baby cruising Love stands a little bit lower. But it is a very nice song. I think what I like most about Baby cruising Love are the lyrics and the vocals. The lyrics talk about being with someone in this very... cosmic way. The girls mention space, voyages, and long journeys. I don't know how to explain it, but it works! The best part of the Baby cruising Love is the very end when the girls sing separate parts overlapping one another. When I'm in the right mood, Baby cruising Love is a very cool song to listen to, but even when I'm not, it's still a pretty good song.

My Rating:

5. Chocolate Disco

Here's another well-known song from Perfume's discography! Chocolate Disco, one of Perfume's most over-performed concert songs. I wonder, do the girls ever get tired of constantly performing Chocolate Disco and Polyrhythm? I will admit, I do get tired of Chocolate Disco since it's performed so much. But when I don't listen to it for awhile, I find myself enjoying this song all over again! Chocolate Disco is a fun song and not much else. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing! Because Chocolate Disco excels at being a fun song. The chorus is extremely catchy; I can see why Kimura Kaela played the song so much on her radio show. The lyrics to Chocolate Disco are just about the easiest to remember, even to someone who doesn't speak Japanese. So no, it isn't deep or poetic, but it is an extremely happy song. And coming after the hard dance song GAME and slower Baby cruising Love, Chocolate Disco is a nice transition to a peppier sound.

My Rating:

6. Macaroni

And then slowing it down after the party song that was Chocolate Disco is the lounge-y Macaroni. Macaroni definitely isn't a ballad, but it is a very slow, very chill song. Actually, Macaroni is a great song to listen to on a rainy day. Or any day where you're at home relaxing with nothing to do. Even when you're doing stuff. Just listen to this song. I think Macaroni's really grown on me in the past few years. There are very few times when I'm not stressed out, and Macaroni is a good song to listen to when I am under stress. The song is just so calming and slow. I always feel very relaxed after listening to Macaroni. The music video is also really good, and I highly recommend checking it out. I like Macaroni being in the middle of GAME. It's like a calming interlude between the really energetic Chocolate Disco and the more upbeat song following it. Honestly, I'd love to hear more of this side of Perfume in their current music, like with Furikaeru to Iru yo.

My Rating:

7. Ceramic Girl

Ceramic Girl is a funny little song. When I first started listening to it, I thought it was all right. The chorus was cute and I did like the fast nature of the lyrics. But not much about Ceramic Girl really stuck out to me (except for the title). That is... until I got to the bridge. Like Polyrhythm, the best part about Ceramic Girl is the bridge in the middle of the second and last chorus. The second chorus ends with the last word, "girl" being repeated over and over. And then it starts getting faster. And faster. And faster and faster and faster until BAM! All the music drops and then the chorus kicks back in. I loved that part back when I first listened to Ceramic Girl and love it just as much today! I'm actually surprised Nakata never made an extended mix of Ceramic Girl. That bridge is practically remix-bait, and considering his penchant for remixes, you'd think he'd be all over that. Oh well, in its original form, Ceramic Girl is a pretty fun, happy song with a standout bridge followed by more fun and happiness.

My Rating:

8. Take me Take me

This song is definitely the most divisive on GAME. I feel like fans either love it or hate it. I can see why some fans wouldn't like it. It's a repetitive song, and the lyrics are only slightly more creative than the ones in Spending all my time. Personally though, Take me Take me is one of my favorite Perfume songs. So what makes it better than Spending all my time? Well, unlike Spending all my time, Take me Take me has atmosphere. This is a moody, sensual song, and the minimal lyrics work really well in adding to that moodiness. To really get Take me Take me, I highly recommend watching the live from Perfume's GAME Tour. Take me Take me is a mature song (it's very heavily implied the song is about intercourse), and the choreography for Take me Take me highlights both the maturity and sensuality of the song. If you're unsure about Take me Take me, listen to the song a few times to see if it grows on you. For me, the song is like wine; it gets better with time.

My Rating:

9. Secret Secret

Ahhh yes, Secret Secret, one of the best songs on this album and one of the best songs by Perfume in general. Do you ever listen to a song and have this feeling of absolute awe rush over you like a wave? Even after the song is over, you just kind of sit there with this feeling of having listened to something truly incredible. That is what happened when I listened to Secret Secret. Oh god, what is not great about this song? The fake-out opening is classic, the vocal structure is perfect, the instrumental is the right blend of edgy and soft, Secret Secret is just a wonderful, wonderful song that makes me grateful that Amuse kept Perfume around after Perfume ~Complete Best~. I know I sound like I'm gushing, but if you haven't listened to Secret Secret, please do so. Musically, the song is an eargasm, and I love the lyrics to Secret Secret. The song is all about the relationship between a performer and their fan, which only adds even more poignancy to the song. Absolutely my favorite song off of GAME.

My Rating:

10. Butterfly

The biggest complaint I hear about Butterfly is that it's too repetitive. And.. yeah, it is really repetitive. Most the song consists of Perfume singing Butterfly for roughly sixteen counts, then signing a few verses. Rinse and repeat. But... I still really like Butterfly. At first, I did think it was a little too monotonous, but much like Take me Take me, Butterfly has a really great atmosphere. I recommend watching the Budokan clip of Butterfly; I think it adds to the song with some very entrancing visuals. Butterfly took awhile to grow on me, but now I like it a lot. I actually love how long it is. Those long notes the girls hold while singing Butterfly are just so captivating. And the instrumental sounds almost tropical at times. I think had the instrumental of Butterfly been more boring, then I wouldn't like the song as much. But when I listen to Butterfly, I evokes all these trippy, colorful images of butterflies in my head. Butterfly's just kind of a trippy, but cool song. Personally, I like it a lot.

My Rating:

11. Twinkle snow Powdery snow

Okay... I... actually, I think Twinkle snow Powdery snow is the weakest song on the entire album. Now that doesn't mean this song is bad, it's just... kind of underwhelming compared to everything else? My feelings about Twinkle snow Powdery snow are weird. In the late fall and winter, around November through February, I enjoy listening to this song. I think it's a great winter song, especially with that very Christmas-y opening. But when the weather gets warmer, I don't really like listening to this song that much. Twinkle snow Powdery snow is such a distinctively winter song. The lyrics are about snow, the PV is about snow, I don't want to listen to a song about snow when it's 102 degrees outside. Twinkle snow Powdery snow is still a fun, cute song, but if I could choose between it and say, Seventh Heaven to go on GAME, then I'd go with the latter. Ask me about this song again around December and maybe I'll feel differently about it then.

My Rating:

12. Puppy love

One of my favorite Perfume songs EVER! Okay, I've been saying that about a lot of the songs on GAME, but Puppy love is still one of them! I think this song is adorable. It's just so sweet and heartfelt, and oh, I just get warm fuzzies thinking about this song! So a few years ago I actually learned the dance to this song for fun along with the words. In fact, I still know the lyrics to Puppy love. I'm not sure why; I guess they just got stuck in my head easily. Yeah, in case you can't tell yet, I really love this song, and I love that it's the song that closes out GAME. Puppy love is a happy Perfume song, happy in the sweetest way a Perfume song can be. I love the opening of the song too; it reminds me of the intro to Linus and Lucy. And everything after that is just as wonderful! Like with Macaroni, I feel better when I listen to Puppy love. Something about how it's so blithe and happy puts on a smile on my face. I'm even smiling right now as I type this!

My Rating:

The Verdict

Well, there you have it. I love this album so much. In my opinion, GAME is Perfume's best album. Why? Because it shows all the best sides of their music. You want a happy Perfume song? GAME has Plastic smile, Chocolate Disco, Ceramic Girl, and Puppy love. You want a slow Perfume song? GAME has Macaroni. You want a darker Perfume song? GAME has GAME, Take me Take me, and Butterfly. You want an awesome song? GAME has- well, actually all the songs are awesome. The problems that I've had with Perfume's subsequent albums are that they don't have a very good balance of musical styles. JPN was too light and lacking in original content, ⊿ was too heavy on electronic effects, and Level3 had Mirai no Museum. There isn't a single track that I wouldn't want on GAME. Not even Twinkle snow Powdery snow. Although I would have loved if Seventh Heaven had made it to the album. Anyways, the balance of different styles and sounds on this album is near-perfect. A lot of my favorite Perfume songs come from GAME, and for good reason. GAME is just the right amount of fun, happy technopop and dark, edgy technopop and everything else in-between.

But back to the question I proposed: is GAME a great album because of nostalgia or because it stands on its own merits as a great album? I think for me, it's a little bit of both. GAME came out just when I was getting into Perfume. In fact, I remember going on Youtube and listening to the songs because I didn't know how to download an album back then. I remember watching Secret Secret and feeling absolutely blown away by this trio of girls not much older than me dancing to such different music to my ears. When I listen to GAME now, I can't help but have that nostalgia overcome me. But when I listen to GAME, I also realize all over again why I love Perfume so much. For most artists, I'll have phases where I listen to them on heavy rotation, then forget about them for some time before picking them up again. That's not the case with Perfume. When I listen to GAME, it's like listening to a reminder of why I follow and write about (and even gush about) Perfume. I can still play GAME and feel like I'm listening to it for the first time. There isn't a single song I would take off the album; each song on GAME shows just how great Perfume's music can be when Nakata's on a roll. If you want to get into Perfume, then GAME is an album you definitely should listen to.

GAME abso-freaking-lutely gets five apples. There is a reason that GAME is my favorite Perfume album, and I think I just went over that in this review. Now what will next month's Time Capsule Review be? It's up to you! There's a poll with five May releases in it, and as of now, any of them could be the Time Capsule Review! So if you want one to be reviewed, go vote! Or not! It's up to you! But I will ask you guys this: what Perfume album is your favorite? Is it GAME? Not GAME? None of them at all?

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