Thursday, May 8, 2014

Blooming into Second Spring

The first week of spring where I live felt nothing like spring. It was cold, rainy, disgusting, and generally miserable. Actually, most of April was cold, rainy, and disgusting. Thankfully, the weather has finally warmed up in May, and it actually feels like spring! I guess you could say May has been my... Second Spring.

Look guys, it's Curumi Chronicle! Above we see her jamming out to what is probably her own music, because she has some pretty awesome music. You know what's so nice about following Curumi Chronicle? She has a great international fanbase. When I say that I mean she has an active international fanbase. It's so hard to follow indie idols, but there are so many translations of her interviews, songs, release information, etc. that it makes following her much easier! Which is good because I think Curumi Chronicle is slowly becoming one of my favorite idols to write about on the Wonderland. I loved her debut album (it got five apples!), and I love her general sound. What do you expect? She's a technopop idol in the vein of Perfume, of course that's right up my alley! I think her and Kus Kus can fill the void in my heart when Perfume disbands (that is if Kus Kus sticks with being an electropop unit). Anyways, Curumi's latest release is an EP appropriately titled Second Spring EP. I don't know what happened to the First Spring, but Second Spring EP has been out for about a month now. It's been at the top of my single review list for now, and I think it's long overdue that I give Curumi Chronicle's first single post-album a proper review. And as for you, reader, you should listen to Second Spring EP! If you want. Your choice. I can't make you do anything... oh well, onto the review!


Nothing much to say about the cover. It's probably a still taken from one of Curumi's concerts and then they just added her name in the bottom right corner. Curumi Chronicle's about as indie as a technopop idol can get, so I don't expect anything too intricate for her single covers. So yeah, nothing special, but Curumi looks very into it on the cover. Like she's jamming out to her own music, and we should all join her! I'll be a Curumi Chronicle concert is awesome. It's probably really small and intimate, with quality music blasting through the speakers and- okay, back on topic. Covers are fine, outfit is fine, everything is fine so let's get to the songs!!

Prismic Step

I actually listened to a preview of Prismic Step before Second Spring EP was released, that and a full rip of one other song on this single. At the time, I was kind of underwhelmed by Prismic Step. I didn't hate the song, but it didn't leave a lasting impression on me, just vague positivity. But in hindsight, I think that was because it was just the chorus. The full song is better! Prismic Step is one of Curumi Chronicle's brighter technopop songs, kind of like Make New World and Twinkle linkle line. Prismic Step has the same Dubstep bits subtly placed behind the verses that Make New World also had. Oddly enough, I didn't find it to be that gratuitous, the same way I did for Make New World. Do Curumi's producers have some weird voodoo magic that makes their Dubstep breaks not awkward and forced? Beyond the Dubstep, Prismic Step is a really fun song that shows off the more idol side of Curumi Chronicle. I think if she wanted to, she could perform an acoustic version of this song and have it still sound pretty similar. Of course, in its original form, Prismic Step is still pretty neat. I do wonder what Prismic Step is though... I mean, I can' even find the word "prismic" in the dictionary.

Although I do like Prismic Step, I still don't latch on to it quite as strongly as the two other original songs on Second Spring EP. It's a fine song and everything, and a lovely piece of technopop, but there's something very... ordinary about it? I don't want to say it's generic but it's... it sounds a lot like Saori@destiny. Saori@destiny was a technopop artist (and a good one at that), and Curumi's gotten a lot of comparisons to her and other former technopop artist Aira Mitsuki. She's mainly been compared to the latter for being about as street idol as a technopop artist can get. I read that Curumi actually got kind of upset when she got compared to Saori@destiny, because she wanted to be seen as an individual performer and not the shadow of someone else. Which is a completely fair statement, but I bring this up because... I could totally hear Saori@destiny releasing Prismic Step. Or Aira Mitsuki. Which again, doesn't mean that Prismic Step is a bad song. But when I listen to it, I feel like I'm listening to a reincarnation of Saori@destiny. And that feeling is kind of surreal. But comparisons aside, I still like Prismic Step, even if it isn't my favorite song off this single. It's a fun, idol-y song!

So I think I'll give Prismic Step four and half apples! It really is a cute little song, with a bunch of fun little technopop sound effects and earnestly happy vocals. Admittedly, it's not the strongest I've heard from Curumi Chronicle, but on Second Spring EP, Prismic Step is still a pretty sweet song. And hey, it sounds like it came from the future! I love futuristic music!


Orange was the only song I hadn't heard beforehand on Second Spring EP; everything else I'd either heard the full song or a preview. So Orange was kind of the wild card on this single. All I knew was the that song was a little over five minutes, and I deduced that very like Orange was a ballad. Maybe a ballad about oranges! Orange is a ballad, but sadly it has nothing to do with fruit. The lyrics of Orange are very nice though, sad too. Check them out at the bottom of this lyrics page. Actually, follow that blog if your'e a Tumblr user. Sidling away from that plug-in, Orange is a pretty simple song about having a crush on someone but not being able to tell them, let alone approach them. But the way the lyrics are written projects such a strong feeling of loneliness combined with sadness. It adds such a nice layer to the song! I've always had a very divided opinion on ballads, but I will admit, I'm a little more lenient when it comes to techno ballads. I'm not sure why that is, but maybe it's because of my fondness for techno music. And in techno ballads, I feel like there's more... exploration musically? With regular ballads, the music is usually very stripped down (with exceptions of course). But in techno ballads, the instrumental isn't necessarily barren, just more downbeat and different.

Orange is a ballad that uses one of my favorite musical techniques: a lengthy crescendo. I don't know what it is about a long crescendo, but that slow buildup always gives me chill bumps! And Orange has such a lovely crescendo that's perfectly timed. The song is over five minutes and it uses those five minutes well, building as each verse and chorus passes until the end of the song is blooming with beautiful instrumental effects. That's something else I love about Orange; it has a really great musical atmosphere. Is that the right way to describe it? There's just something very enchanting about the sound of Orange, like something you'd hear in a dream. The little sound effects between each chorus and verse are my favorite parts. They invoke images of sparkles and rain... I'm not sure why those two specifics images come to my mind, but they do! Orange actually reminds me a lot of Rainy Starry Night, a song from Curumi's self-titled debut album. Both songs have that very soothing, ambient sound. For such a pretty song, Orange really is quite sad though. I keep rereading the lyrics and each time I re-read a verse, I can't help but think of how sad the song is. But it's sad in the prettiest way possible. I really love this song; it's definitely one of my favorites on this single.

I gotta give Orange five apples. It's rare that I find a ballad I really like, and Orange is so very pretty. I want to gaze at stars listening to this song, or sleep under a tree, or do something that sounds idyllic in my head. Definitely give this one a listen, especially if you're in the mood for something calm.


Mmmmm~ I love this song. You know how there are some songs you listen to, and you just feel better when they're playing through your earbuds? Yeah, that's what Kitty is. Between this and Orange, I can't decide what my favorite track on Second Spring EP is. I think I have to go with Kitty though, just by a margin. Kitty has such a... distinct sound. I don't think I've heard another Curumi Chronicle song I can compare it to. Kitty was the first song I heard of all the tracks on this EP, and immediately I latched on to it. You'd think a song like Kitty would sound pretty adorable, but it's actually more of a dance song. It'll probably get a remix at some point, this one or Prismic Step! The weird thing about Kitty is that it's not... a super dance-y song. Like it's not dance-y in the way you'd think a technopop song would be dance-y. It's nowhere near as hard as technopop dance tracks like The Music, Edge, Galaxy Boy, etc. But when I listen to Kitty, I still want to dance to it. Weirdly enough, Kitty reminds me of an 80s dance track. There's something about the melody in the instrumental that makes me think of Madonna, and I'm not completely sure what that is. I also get a little bit of a Perfume no Okite vibe from Kitty, just a little bit though.

So yeah, Kitty isn't a dance song in the same way that some of Curumi's other songs are, like 16 feat. Usagi Disco or her unreleased song Voice feat. Usagi Disco. Come to think of it, any of her Usagi Disco remixes tend to be dance songs. Anyways, Kitty is very quirky. That's the best way I can describe it. Vocally, it's nothing too new for Curumi. But the arrangement is very different from Curumi's past songs. Something about the transitions and just overall structure. I'm not sure how to properly explain without a proper music background. Just to my ears, Kitty sounds quirky. That's why I like the song so much! I don't think I'll ever hear another song like Kitty from Curumi Chronicle, or at least I hope I won't. I wonder how Kitty sounds when Curumi performs it live. I wonder that about a lot of Curumi Chronicle songs, but particularly so with Kitty. For such a short song, I think Kitty is a lot of fun. There are a lot of distinct, memorable parts in it, like the opening instrumental, the entire chorus, the English, and especially that kickass instrumental break in the middle. That reminds me of a Purity Ring song for some reason... Overall, for reasons I can't quite fully explain, I think Kitty is a freaking awesome song. I will definitely jam to this frequently.

Big surprise, Kitty gets five apples. This is such a neat song that's like half dance song and half idol song. The final result is something that works really well. My explanation is not doing Kitty justice, so just go listen to the song if you haven't done so already. I think the entire song up on Curumi's Youtube channel so there it is! And while you're at it, you can subscribe to Curumi Chronicle as well!

Kagayake Sorairo Shoujo (Usgai Disco Remix)

The next-to-last song off Second Spring EP is the Usagi Disco Remix of Kagayake Sorairo Shoujo. Now I love the original Kagayake Sorairo Shoujo; it's one of my favorite songs off of Curumi's debut album. What made the song so neat is that it was such a nice combination of a electronic dance and cutesy idol pop. Usagi Disco produces much of Curumi's music, most notably producing 16 feat. Usagi Disco and Gozen Juuichi Ji (Usagi Disco Remix) off her debut album and a currently unreleased song called Voice. No, not Perfume's Voice, Curumi's Voice is much better than Perfume's. Some of those songs were the highlights from Curumi Chronicle, and I'll be gobsmacked if Voice doesn't get a release at some point. I was a little skeptical of a remix of a song that I already found to be perfect the way it was. However, Usagi Disco's previous work with Curumi lead me to be optimistic about the remix of Kagayake Sorairo Shoujo. Maybe Usagi Disco could utilize the dance elements of Kagayake Sorairo Shoujo and extend them in his remix, kind of what Nakata did with Perfume's edge and Spring of Life. So did Kagayake Sorairo Shoujo (Usagi Disco Remix) turn out to be a memorable remix?

Well... not exactly. Not at all, actually.

Look, I'm not against remixing a song. I know that artists do it all the time with their own songs, and I have listened to some very awesome remixes. But I just can't get into Kagayake Sorairo Shoujo (Usagi Disco Remix). It cuts out a lot of my favorite parts, including the adorable instrumental opening; the song just goes straight into the chorus. Surprisingly Kagayake Sorairo Shoujo (Usagi Disco Remix) is slower than the original Kagayake Sorairo Shoujo. Which isn't a terrible musical decision... that can work! But again, what I liked about the original song was how upbeat and cheerful it was. This Kagayake Sorairo Shoujo feels more like a dance song than it does an idol song. And a lot of Curumi Chronicle songs get that same vibe, but the thing is, the original song is so much more idol-y. There are some pretty cool dance breaks in this remix, but again, they don't feel like they match up with the rest of the song. I get what Usagi Disco was trying to do by changing the style of Kagayake Sorairo Shoujo, but personally, I think his changes take away what made the original such a great song. Listening to Kagayake Sorairo Shoujo (Usagi Disco Remix) just makes me want to listen to the original song. In fact, I think I'll go listen to the original right now!

I'll give Kagayake Sorairo Shoujo (Usagi Disco Remix) three apples, partially because at its core, the original song is amazing. The remix isn't a total trashing of the original mix, but it doesn't exactly enhance Kagayake Sorairo Shoujo. I guess if you wanted to play this song at a party it would work better? For me though, I'm sticking with the original.

Kuruikuru (Fenotasu Remix)

And finally the last song on this EP is... another remix! Yay. Hopefully, it'll be better than Kagayake Sorairo Shoujo (Usagi Disco Remix). This remix is of Kuruikuru, another song off of Curumi's debut album. Kuruikuru was another strong song off of Curumi Chronicle, mainly for being such a fast-paced energetic song. It was catchy too! I was hoping that the remix would keep the same high speed of the original Kuruikuru, and I think for the most part, it does. But I also feel like the instrumentation is changed a lot in the Fenotasu Remix of Kuruikuru. The original was more a dance-pop song, but this remix sounds a lot more like Kagayake Sorairo Shoujo. The original one, not the Usagi Disco Remix. It's really hard for me to properly explain the differences between Kuruikuru and the Fenotasu Remix. It's like the instrumental was trimmed down and then lighter sounds were added to it. I even heard an acoustic guitar at one point in this remix. I guess I'd say Kuruikuru (Fenotasu Remix) isn't as... loud as the original? I'm not sure that's the right word? It's like the remix is more organic.

But which of the two works better? I admit I like Kuruikuru's remix better than I did Kagayake Sorairo Shoujo's. But like with Kagayake Sorairo Shoujo, I didn't really need a remix of Kuruikuru. I think the original is just fine, great actually! The original is so energetic and upbeat. I do like that Kuruikuru keeps the same vocal structure as the original. And the changes made to the song aren't bad ones; I do like that Kuruikuru (Fenotasu Remix) has a more technopop sound than it does EDM. But while the changes to Kuruikuru aren't bad ones, I do kind of miss the sound of the original. Again, I love the original version. But if I were to judge Kuruikuru (Fenotasu Remix) on its own, without bearing in mind that it's a remix, I still think that it's an enjoyable song. It's just as fun an upbeat, and it does showcase the more idol-y side of Curumi's musical style. I think it's all a matter of personal taste; if you like the more idol side of Curumi's music, then the Fenotasu Remix of Kuruikuru may appeal to you more than the original. I guess my own final verdict on Kuruikuru (Fenotasu Remix) is mixed to positive? It's decent as far as remixes go.

So I guess I'll go with 3.5 apples. I still like the original Kuruikuru better than the Fenotasu Remix, but I did enjoy listening to the remix. Will I listen to it much in the future? Probably not. But if it comes up on shuffle in my music library, it's not like I'll skip it!

The Verdict

So that was Curumi Chronicle's first single after her debut album, and I think for the most part, it holds up pretty well. I think the biggest weakness of the single was that it probably didn't need to be an EP. Second Spring EP could have just had Prismic Step, Orange, and Kitty on it and still would have been a strong release. Maybe an even stronger release. The two remixes of Kagayake Sorairo Shoujo and Kuruikuru aren't exactly unwanted, but for me, they don't add much to the EP. Kagayake Sorairo Shoujo (Usagi Disco Remix) is particularly unnecessary when the original song is in my opinion, better than this remix. Kuruikuru (Fenotasu Remix) holds up slightly better, but at the end of the day, I'm still going to listen to the original more than the remix. Maybe I'm just a stickler for original songs. But then again, I've heard some really good remixes... is it just my own personal taste? I guess I like a remix better when I feel like the best parts of a song are being enhanced, not changed or flat-out removed. And in the remixes on Second Spring EP, it feels like one or the other is being done to both the original songs. So the final result is different, but not necessarily better. I wouldn't say the two remixes aren't terrible, but neither one really impressed me.

However, the original songs on Second Spring EP did. Even Prismic Step, the weakest of the three songs, was still a really good song. What I like about Prismic Step, Orange, and Kitty is that they're all different from each other. Prismic Step is bubbly technopop, Orange is a calm ballad, and Kitty is a catchy dance track. Each on has its own individual strengths and adds something to the single. None of them feel like filler tracks, unlike the two remixes. Prismic Step is such a contagiously happy song, in the vein of Saori@destiny's earlier work or Aira Mitsuki's. In contrast, Orange is a ballad with surprisingly sad lyrics and gorgeous composition. And finally, Kitty is the quirky dance track that I could totally see being played at a club. A very fun club that plays Japanese technopop. Together, these three songs make up the best of Second Spring EP. Overall though, this is still a good single, with or without the remixes. Like I said before, there isn't exactly an abundance of technopop idols on the market right now. I mean, there is Kyarypamyupamyu but... that's Kyary. Curumi Chronicle's Second Spring EP offers the same variety of technopop that made her album such an enjoyable listen. I've been jamming to all the songs on this single since it was released, and I highly recommend you should too!

Second Spring EP gets four apples from me. Even at its weaker points, this is still a strong technopop release, and pretty much the only thing other than Kyary right now that I can review. But seriously, can Voice get a release already? That song is golden. Even at is weakest points, Second Spring EP is still a good single, and I highly recommend listening to it if you haven't done so already. And if you're into technopop acts like Aira Mitsuki and Saori@destiny, check Curumi Chronicle! Unlike those two, she hasn't dropped off the face of the planet. Not yet at least. Let's hope it stays that way!

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