Thursday, August 28, 2014

Faint Star's Incredibly Long Debut Single

Luckily, it's not as long as AKB48's 2013 Janken single!

So you might be wondering, "Who the hell is Faint Star!?" or maybe even, "Wow! Nia's reviewing Faint Star! This is amazing! She's such a quality person!"But I'd wager more the former. Faint Star is a group that rose from the ashes of the now-disbanded Tomato n'Pine. I don't know too much about Tomato n'Pine other than the few singles they released, and I think that they were a fairly popular group. Obviously not popular enough since they disbanded. So one of Tomapai's members, Hina, has gone on to form Faint Star with non-Tomapai member Yuria. Other than that, not much has been released about Faint Star. What drew me into Faint Star was the music video for Sleeping in Your Car, released on their Youtube channel. It was a cute music video, and I really enjoyed the song. With no other information about them, that intrigue kept me interested! Two music videos later, Faint Star has finally released their debut single, Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni! Try saying that out loud. I figured that there's no better way to expose a new group to international fans than reviewing it, so let's take a look at Faint Star and see if they're worth following!


There's just one cover for Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni, and it's pretty simplistic. I've seen the "natural and possibly not wearing shirts" look on so many covers, including Perfume's Voice and Vanilla Beans Vanibest album. In fact, this cover gives me some strong Vanilla Beans vibes... I'm sure it's just a coincidence! Because this is a "natural and possibly not wearing shirts" kind of single cover, I can't say much about the outfits for Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni. But the promotional outfits Faint Star has used look nice! Very crisp and clean. Also, the girls look kind of Photoshopped on the covers. I mean yes, all covers feature some degree of Photoshopping, but I notice it more with this cover. Not sure why. Overall, these are nice covers. Generic and simple, but nice.


Now to the real meat of the single, Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni! Good god, that's a pain to type out. I think I've finally remembered how it's spelled after all these weeks! Anyways, Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni sounds more technopop compared to the rest of the songs on this single. It's nowhere near to the level of Curumi Chronicle or Perfume or even Kus Kus, but Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni still has some prominent technopop vibes. There are even parts of the song sound trance-y, mainly the instrumental breaks. I doubt it'll happen, but Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni could absolutely get an extended mix a la edge (⊿-mix). The vocals sound pretty normal, so if you're not huge on technopop, you don't have to worry about Faint Star sounding robotic! The vocals have that consistently smooth-quality that I liked in Sleeping in Your Car. I don't know what kind of music style Faint Star is going for yet, but Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni makes me wonder if they're going to dabble in more technopop with future singles. I wouldn't be complaining! I've been itching for another techno duo since amU...

While I do love my fix of technopop, I still think that Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni has some weak points. The main one being that the song is kind of slow. At first, the pacing creates this cool, moody atmosphere, but after the 2-minute mark, Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni starts to drag. And the song sounds kind of subdued. There's just not as much energy that I think Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni created. So a song that could have made a stronger impression ends up leaving a slightly more underwhelming impression. And the song isn't trance enough to be slow and subdued in an entrancing way. Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni is still a pretty good song, and I do like the overall sound of it. But it comes off as a little lackluster and fails to leave a strong impression on the first listen. My advice is listen to it a few times, and that should give you an idea of whether Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni is the kind of song you'd enjoy. For me, this lengthily-titled song has its merits, but I wouldn't have minded another song on this single to be the A-side.

The full music video for Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni is admittedly, a little scant. It's scant in a simplistic, tasteful way, but still scant. Sitting through the music video for a full four minutes is a bit challenging because so little happens in it. I think what would have helped is a little color, because the main color palette for Koboreteshimattamizunouyouni's PV is whites and grays and beiges. Pretty dull. I can give benefit of the doubt and assume Faint Star's creative team doesn't have a huge budget to work with. If that's true, then I think they did pretty well with what they were given. The PV for Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni just shows the girls. Sometimes they're in slow motion, sometimes it's showing them dancing. Alongside the girls themselves are also a few random images and special effects. There are white flower petals, two hourglasses, some visual effects here and there. Oh yeah, the hourglasses break at the end! Then... they rebuild themselves. Fun! Then there are letters displaying the full title of the song or the names of the girls. Like I said, a very simplistic PV.

Have I mentioned that all of Faint Star's music videos feature English subtitles? Because they do! And not the butt-ugly Google Translate subtitles Hello! Project uses for their music videos! If an idol group is going to put English subtitles on their music videos (and again, there's not much reason to considering how small the international market is), then Faint Star sets a pretty good example. The subtitles for Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni are tastefully subtle while also being easy to read. However, the subtitles aren't enough to spice up the PV for Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni. This is still a very, minimalistic, very slow music video that I could probably fall asleep to. Even the dance is slow. Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni has got to have one of the easiest dances I have ever seen. The girls don't even move their feet. They literally just stand in one place and make hand motions. I think the dance is meant to look artistic, but it ends up looking a little bare-bones. Like the rest of the music video! Overall, the PV for Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni is decent, but you're not gonna remember it after a day or so.

After much calculating and contemplating and other analytical, tech-y things, I have decided the best rating for Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni is one apple for every character in its title! No, actually I'm just giving the song four apples. It's a good song that isn't without its weaknesses, but if you like technopop and idols, then check Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni out!

Sleeping in Your Car

Next on our tour of Faint Star's debut single is the song that kickstarted my interest in them! Seriously, I was heavily considering reviewing the music video for Sleeping in Your Car. The only reason I didn't was because I had such little information about the song and Faint Star. So what made Sleeping in Your Car stand out to me at the time? I think it was a song that just came out at the right time. I was in the mood for something bright and airy, and Sleeping in Your Car pretty much came flouncing in being exactly the kind of idol song I wanted to hear. So yes, Sleeping in Your Car is light. Very light. It's like the music version of those little crackers they have at Chinese restaurants! There's nothing profound about the song, but Sleeping in Your Car is still refreshingly light. The members of Faint Star are even floating in the music video. Despite its light fluffiness, Sleeping in Your Car manages not to sound bland. How? I am not 100% sure, but I think the production for Sleeping in Your Car was handled well. Apparently the team who produced Sleeping in Your Car has also produced for other idol acts, including and 9nine.

I didn't notice this at first, but Sleeping in Your Car sounds a lot like a Vanilla Beans song. To the point where it's a little eerie. The vocals have that same smooth, breezy quality of Vanilla Beans' songs, so much that if I put Sleeping in Your Car in a Vanilla Beans playlist, I wouldn't be able to spot the difference. Imitation is flattering, and I'm pretty lenient when it comes to idol groups sounding like other idol groups. But every time I listen to Sleeping in Your Car, I can't help but picture Vanilla Beans singing the song. It almost makes me regret ever finding the similarity... If you are a fan of Vanilla Beans, you're either gonna love Sleeping in Your Car for sounding like a Vanilla Beans song or hate for the exact same thing. For me, the likability of Sleeping in Your Car trumps its similarity to Vanilla Beans' music. Sleeping in Your Car was the first song that got me into Faint Star, and all these months later, I still enjoy it tremendously! This is the song that I wish had been the A-side on Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni, either this one or the next song I'm about to talk about...

The music video for Sleeping in Your Car has about as much budget as Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni, but I like Sleeping in Your Car's PV better. Like I said, the music video got me interested in Faint Star. Also, remember when I mentioned the girls floated in this PV? Yeah, they do! A lot! It's a really cute effect; it could have been extremely creepy had BiS decided to do a video like this. But BiS is no longer with us... sigh... What was I talking about? Right, the music video has some pretty simple effects, but they're not so overdone that I'm bored of them. The PV relies on this stop motion effect where some frames are removed from each shot, making the motions of the girls seem jerky and a little cartoonish. Again, that could have been extremely creepy had another idol group done this. It's a simple little effect, but it gives this charm to the PV. Which is a good thing, because there isn't much else going on in the PV. The girls just dance and walk around on a white backdrop; in fact, the only colors in this PV are the outfits! This could have been a really dull music video, but with the right effects, Sleeping in Your Car is an engaging and cute little music video.

Like with Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni, subtitles exist in Sleeping in Your Car. Thankfully, these subtitles also look tasteful and aren't in-your-face like some subtitled music videos. Yes, I'm still bitching about Hello! Project's subtitles; sorry, it's a bad habit. But the subtitles on Sleeping in Your Car fit the music video perfectly. And they're this lovely shade of light blue, which also adds some much-needed color to the music video! I'm actually happy that there are subtitles on Sleeping in Your Car, because I highly doubt anyone would post a translation of the lyrics. The lyrics to the song are really cute, and they make a lot of sense! The song mentions all these Swedish bands too like The Cardigans, Cloudberry Jam, and Roxette. I'm not sure what the songwriter's fascination with Swedish bands was, but that does give the song this quirky edge. Also, the girls look cute in this PV! In Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni, they looked kind of weird. Here they've got on cute outfits, and they're styled nicely! Their outfits look like outfits Vanilla Beans would wear... okay, probably not the best thing to compare them too considering all the other Vanilla Beans similarities Sleeping in Your Car has...

Despite Vanilla Beans comparisons left and right, Sleeping in Your Car gets a light and airy four and half apples from me! I love the carefree sound of the song and the general production. Also gotta love those random Swedish bands dropped in the lyrics. The music video matches the happy feeling of the song, so really you should just do yourself a favor and check Sleeping in Your Car out.

Re Mi La

Behind Door #3 is our second B-side on Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni! Like with Sleeping in Your Car, a music video for this song was released before this full single. So going in, I knew what to expect from Re Mi La. What I didn't now was that the song was five minutes long, kind of a lengthy song for an idol group. Unless that idol group is Especia. Anyways, Re Mi La sounds like something Shishido Kavka would release. Well, I think if this were a Shishido Kavka single, there would be a kickass drum solo, which Re Mi La unfortunately lacks. The beginning of Re Mi La does start with a nice guitar solo. It made me initially think Re Mi La was going to be a pop-rock song (which I wouldn't have minded at all). Instead, Re Mi La has more of an ambient electro sound, kind of what Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni has. In fact, Re Mi La and Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni actually have a pretty close sound. Of the two though, I think Re Mi La works better. Even though the song is longer, Re Mi La doesn't drag out the same way Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni does.

Besides, I think the lengthiness of Re Mi La sounds more intentional than Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni. Re Mi La has this cool, laidback sound that works nicely. The vocals don't sound dead, but the girls do sound intentionally calm. I don't want to say that Re Mi La is a ballad, because it's not. It is a slow-paced song. If you're into slower idol songs, then you might like Re Mi La. Also, there's that hint of technopop in Re Mi La. I like that Faint Star isn't vocoded like amU or Perfume; the girls' smooth vocals work well enough with the song. I think if Re Mi La had gone full techno, it could have worked too, but I like the song the way it is. Like with Sleeping in Your Car, the song also drops some random Western artists, such as Madonna! I don't have a full translation of the lyrics, but the ones I have read are well-written! I'm noticing that all of Faint Star's lyrics are pretty good. Obviously, I can't know how well they actually are since they're translated, but the translations make sense, and the Western references are kind of cool. Even without those, Re Mi La is still a neat song and one of my favorites off of Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni.

I could only find the short version of Re Mi La's music video. That's a little disappointing, because it's my favorite music video of the three on this single. Unless something drastically different and terrible happens in the full version of the PV, which would both cruel and ironic. Unlike the other two music videos, Re Mi La utilizes a real location. I'm always saying this, but locations are your friend. Especially cool urban locations like a city at night. Something about the lighting and the people just makes city locations really awesome to me. Speaking of lighting, there are some really cool lighting effects in this music video. The girls dance in the dark with certain patterns of light projecting over them. It's easier to show than tell, so just go watch the short version of this music video. Re Mi La's PV has a cooler artsy urban feel than Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni and Sleeping in Your Car's music videos. And again, all they're doing is showing the girls walking around the city (with a few cool editing tricks), but it's so interesting looking at the environment they're in. I really do want to see the rest of this music video even if it's more-or-less what was in the short version. For now, I'll enjoy the short version, because it really is the most interesting of the three PVs from this single.

I'll also give Re Mi La four and half apples! Between this and Sleeping in Your Car, I can't decide what my favorite B-side on this single is. I'm leaning a little toward Re Mi La, because it is a cool song that doesn't sound eerily similar to a Vanilla Beans single. Even then, I'm not sure... But if this song had been the A-side, I wouldn't be complaining in the least.

Super Summer Wonder

The last song on Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni is more-or-less a retread of the light sound of Sleeping in Your Car. Actually, Super Summer Wonder is the most idol-sounding song on this single. It's also the most predictable-sounding song on this single. And yet I am surprisingly okay with it. Super Summer Wonder is not my favorite song on this single, but there is something endearing about it. I think it again has to do with the production and vocal delivery of the song. The two members of Faint Star have such smooth, melodically pleasing voices. The girls sound... more mature! That's it! Somehow that just makes Super Summer Wonder a pleasant-sounding song without sounding too generic. Still, I could totally see a cute, adorable Watarirouka Hashiritai-esque dance to this song. Super Summer Wonder reminds me a lot of Sleeping in Your Car; both are fun, sweet idol songs. Oddly enough though, Super Summer Wonder does not remind me of a Vanilla Beans song. Super Summer Wonder reminds me of a Tanpopo song! Mainly Otome Pasta ni Kandou, but pretty much the general sound of  4nin Tanpopo. Definitely not their early stuff...

While Super Summer Wonder sounds very similar to Sleeping in Your Car, I don't like it quite as much as I did Sleeping in Your Car. It's still a very nice song but as I said, a tad predictable. I just feel like everything I can say about Super Summer Wonder is more-or-less what I said about Sleeping in Your Car. And that's not necessarily bad, but writing about Super Summer Wonder and not sounding redundant is a little difficult. I guess the inclusion of Super Summer Wonder on this single does balance out the sounds nicely. Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni and Re Mi La serve as the more serious, mature songs, and Sleeping in Your Car and Super Summer Wonder are the lighter, happier songs. Super Summer Wonder is also the only song on Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni that wasn't previously released on Faint Star's Youtube channel. I do wonder if the song will get a music video... I wouldn't mind seeing a music video for Super Summer Wonder, especially a cute one like Sleeping in Your Car's PV! Overall, Super Summer Wonder if a cute B-side and a likable one too!

I will give Super Summer Wonder four apples! Not quite as strong as the past two songs on Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni but nonetheless, I enjoyed listening to it! Like with Sleeping in Your Car, there something endearing about the cheerfulness of Super Summer Wonder. If you're looking for a song to brighten your day, I'd listen to Super Summer Wonder!

The Verdict

And that's a wrap! Wow, this single was just about as long as the title of the A-side! Not that I mind; I love when idol groups release singles with multiple B-sides. It's nice hearing different angles of their sound on one single. AKB48 did a pretty good job with that for a while! So yes, there's a lot Faint Star offers with Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni with three different B-sides alongside the A-side. Two of those B-sides are also promoted like A-sides with music videos, so that's also a nice bonus! But quantity only matters if the quality matches up to it. So are the four songs on Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni any good? Well, if you glazed over my apple ratings, then you can figure out my general opinion. My least favorite songs on Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni were title song and Super Summer Wonder. That lengthy A-side I don't want to type out again, is a cool song with a bit of techno sound to it, but parts of it drag out too much and the song lacks energy. Super Summer Wonder is a cute song, but it sounds a tad generic, especially with Sleeping in Your Car already on Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni.

Luckily, my two least favorite songs are still pretty good songs! Neither Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni or Super Summer Wonder are terrible songs; they're still good listens, even if neither one reaches 5 apple status. The two songs on this single that I do love are Sleeping in Your Car and Re Mi La. Sleeping in Your Car has a great hook and a delightfully carefree sound, along with interesting lyrics. And Re Mi La is the kind of song that Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni needed to be. It's a cool song that despite being five minutes, manages to keep me pulled in. So with two great songs and two good songs, where does that leave Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni as a whole? Well, even though, I like all the songs on this single, I do feel that Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni lacks some variety. Sleeping in Your Car and Super Summer Wonder sound eerily similar, and even Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni and Re Mi La have the same general sound. I don't mind per se, but I did still notice. Nonetheless, I think Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni still has a lot to offer, and I'm looking forward to Faint Star's future work. And I recommend you guys check this duo out too!

Times like these, I wish I used a more elaborate rating. Since I don't though, I'm settling on four and half apples for Koboreteshimattamizunoyouni. The single has its weak points, but the general sound and production on the single is good quality. If you like idol duos (Vanilla Beans in particular), you should definitely listen to this single.

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