So what did you guys do when you were 17? Did you release two singles on the same day, having already released an album and another single beforehand? Yeah, I didn't think so. Sadly, not all of us can be Curumi Chronicle. If only...
Curumi Chronicle, 17 years old and already accomplishing more than I ever will in my lifetime, has once again graced the world with her music. What does Saori@destiny's spiritual successor have in store for our ears this time? Not just one single, but two! Two different singles, with two different sets of songs! It's like Christmas in August! These two singles, 17 and Touch Me, were released on August 8, and I've been listening to both frequently. These past two months have just been wonderful for technopop releases: first Perfume and now Curumi Chronicle! It makes me dread the dry spell that's coming afterward... Well, for now I thought I'd review Curumi Chronicle's two latest singles! I almost thought about reviewing both in one post, but that's ten songs to write about in one post. Basically, it'd be like writing an album review only ten times longer. So I decided to start with 17 and then do Touch Me. I don't think the order really matters, as long I can spread the word that you all should listen to Curumi Chronicle if you haven't done so already. Why listen to her? Well, let's go through all the songs on 17 and see why!
Like with her past releases, there's only one cover for 17. It's a very nice cover though! Curumi Chronicle's covers always look so nice and natural! They're almost always showing her performing or just doing something random. Curumi's random activity for 17's cover is looking into the distance with a smile, her hair blowing gracefully in the wind! It's a very simple cover (then again, all her covers are simple) but it's nice. The cover fits with the lighter tone this single is going for! And I like the color palette for 17's cover too. Curumi's bright blue shirt is a nice contrast against the light, neutral-colored background. Her outfit for 17 is just street clothes, and very nice street clothes at that. But there's not much to say about them. She looks very carefree on the cover for 17, which I assume reflects the general feeling of the songs on this single. Shall we find out if that's true?
Wow, I guess Aira Mitsuki did come back from her hiatus! I knew she would be back! Seriously, if Curumi just had the lisp, Seventeen would fit right into one of Aira Mitsuki's albums. The very beginning Seventeen sounds just like Colorful Tokyo Sounds No.9. The rest of Seventeen doesn't, but I always get thrown off when I first play this song. I honestly don't mind similarities between Curumi Chronicle and other technopop artists; it's practically inevitable, so there's no point in complaining about it. I'll point any similarities out, but they really don't bother me. Besides, Seventeen is an awesome song! It's got that futuristic sound that I loved in Aira Mitsuki's music. And since Aira Mitsuki is god-knows-where on this planet (she's probably not even on this planet), I am all for Curumi Chronicle dabbling in some more futuristic sounds. And not only that, Seventeen has this magical sound to it. You know, that same sound Make New World, Prismic Step, and Twinkle linkle line have. It just occurred to me that Seventeen is more-or-less a retread of all three of those songs. Oh well, at least Seventeen's a good retread. Unlike some idol groups that are on my Blacklist.
In spite of similarities, Seventeen is still a pretty fantastic song. It's an energetic song too; I can hear the enthusiasm blaring through my earbuds. Seventeen is one of those songs that gives me this feeling of wonder and inspiration. I always feel like a magical girl whenever I listen to Curumi Chronicle's music. A magical girl living in a Star Trek-style future where there are flying cars and cyborgs and lens flares galore. So what I'm actually saying is Seventeen brings out my inner magical girl. This is a serious blog that seriously critiques music, in case you can't tell. On structure, I love the bridge in Seventeen; it really highlights the bright, futuristic sound the song is going for. There's a lot going on in the instrumental of Seventeen, but it never sounds messy. If anything, it just adds more enthusiasm to the song! If I have any complaints, it would be that the lyrics to Seventeen are a little nonsensical. I guess the song is about her being seventeen? Kind of like how she released 16 feat. Usagi Disco when she was sixteen years old. I wonder if that'll be a trend with her future releases? Will we get a single titled 18 next year? What about 20? 25? 30!? I'm getting way ahead of myself; in the present, Seventeen is exactly the kind of music I love to hear from Curumi Chronicle!
What's special about Seventeen is that it's the first Curumi Chronicle song to get a music video! About time too! I came very close to reviewing the PV for Seventeen; had I not been so wrapped up in college, I probably would have. In hindsight, it's probably good that I didn't. I'm not sure I would have been able to write a full-blown PV review for Seventeen. The PV is actually pretty good for an indie artist; I went in expecting something low budget. And while the PV isn't as expensive looking as something by Perfume or Kyarypamyupamyu, there is this charm to it. From what I can see, the PV was shot outdoors, and the natural lighting is nice. It's a little hard to see the scenery in Seventeen though because of the boatload of visual effects. Have I not mentioned those yet? Yeah, the PV for Seventeen is packed with visuals effects. I think they were done by the guy who did the lyric video for Prismic Step. They're cool visual effects, and they add a lot of flair to the PV. There are times when it feels like there are too many visuals effects though.
The cool thing about the visuals though is that at the beginning, they conceal Curumi's face. When the PV starts, all you can see are her lips and sometimes the sides and back of her head. Then as the PV goes on, gradually more and more of her face is visible on screen. Then in the very last shot, you can see her entire face! I don't know why, but I really like this effect. Since this is Curumi Chronicle's first promotional video, showing her face slowly is like introducing her to the world. I don't know if that completely makes sense, but it makes me like the PV even more! And Curumi herself is adorable; I almost wish we could see more of her in this PV. Seventeen isn't the best PV in the world, but considering Curumi's an indie idol, I'm amazed we got a PV at all. I do wonder if any of her future singles will have promotional videos as well... I don't think Touch Me has one. Overall, just seeing Curumi Chronicle get a music video is great. Is it a work of art? Of course not, but I think there was real effort put into this music video! So even if the visuals are a little over excessive and the concept is a little basic, I still recommend watching this music video!
I'll give Seventeen four and half apples. I can't not point out the Seventeen's similarities to Curumi Chronicle's other songs, but that doesn't make Seventeen a bad song. The song has a lot of energy, positivity that practically radiates through your speakers, and a great sound overall. If you liked Prismic Step in particular, then you'd enjoy Seventeen. So go! Listen to this song! And since I mentioned it, listen to Prismic Step while you're at it!
And after the title track we get out first B-side on 17! Not to be confused with the K-pop group, Rainbow was one of the preview songs that I was particularly excited for. And when I say particularly excited I mean I played the preview twenty times straight to deal with not hearing the full version yet. Yeah, I'm not even gonna attempt to be coy about this; Rainbow is my favorite track on this single. Okay, it's one of my favorite tracks; I've had a harder time picking a favorite song off this single than I intended. But it was one of the first tracks I got really excited to hear. Of all the songs on 17, Rainbow probably comes the closest to sounding edgy; even then, the song still has the fun, playful nature most of the tracks on this single do. It's a nice contrast from Seventeen which was a more enthusiastic, cheerful song. Rainbow has the same futuristic sound of Seventeen but sounds like something you'd dance to in a club. I wouldn't be surprised if Rainbow was one of the songs that got an Usagi Disco remix. I could see it working! The song's got a fantastic bridge to work with.
What I also love about Rainbow is that the song's not just your generic dance EDM song. It has elements of EDM no doubt, but the song still sounds very quirky. The instrumental plays a big part in that; Rainbow starts out with such a strong opening instrumental. I really need to learn proper EMD production terms, because I keep wanting to call everything in the instrumental "bleeps and bloops." I'm sure there's a much fancier way of putting that, but that's what the instrumental of Rainbow sounds like. And it's awesome. The sampled vocals at the beginning are cool too; again, they add to that edgy but fun dance sound. I actually think that Rainbow is a great middle between Curumi's fun technopop sound and edgy EDM sound. There are parts of Rainbow that hint toward a harder sound, but then things pick up when the vocals come in. I don't know if another song could work the way Rainbow does, but I'd love to hear more of this blend in Curumi Chronicle's music. I mean, I love her EDM stuff too, but songs like Rainbow sound so distinctive. It's definitely one of the standout tracks on 17, and a great song to come after Seventeen.
Rainbow rightfully gets five apples from me! This song is so awesome; it's great to dance to. Even if you're a terrible dancer like me! If you like Curumi's EDM music, then Rainbow's probably the song you'll gravitate to on 17. I'd say that Rainbow is my favorite track on 17, but we still have three more tracks to get through...
Ashita Hare Tara
So after Rainbow, Curumi Chronicle slows things down with a more relaxing technopop song. On first listening to the preview, I was least excited for Ashita Hare Tara. There wasn't anything rant-inducing awful about the song, but Ashita Hare Tara left the weakest impression. It just sounded like it was going to be this basic technopop song. Now having listened to the entire song, I like Ashita Hare Tara more than I did a few weeks earlier. I don't love it, but it's still a very pleasant technopop song. It reminds me of Rainy Starry Night from Curumi Chronicle's debut album. Rainy Starry Night is a little more memorable though. Ashita Hare Tara is a calm technopop song, and after the energetic Seventeen and Rainbow, it's a nice change of pace. However, the song is maybe a little too calm. There's not much about Ashita Hare Tara that stands out; there are some nice bits in the instrumental. Otherwise, Ashita Hare Tara is what I'd expect from Curumi Chronicle. That doesn't condemn a negative verdict, but again, after two really good songs, Ashita Hare Tara is a bit of a letdown.
Is there anything redeemable about Ashita Hare Tara? A lot more than I've indicated in that last paragraph! Ashita Hare Tara really is a good song, just not a great song. I guess a positive aspect of Ashita Hare Tara is that its sound lingers closer to idol music than some of Curumi's other stuff. I mean, it's a nice blend of pop and techno whereas other Curumi Chronicle songs have a much heavier EDM sound. Maybe with the right placement on an album, Ashita Hare Tara could be like a breather song, kind of how Broken Toy was a nice interlude on Curumi Chronicle's debut album. On 17 though, Ashita Hare Tara is probably my least favorite song. Even then, my least favorite song is still a pretty good song. Ashita Hare Tara is a sweet, melodic song that fits well with Curumi Chronicle's voice. I would mind hearing an instrumental version of Ashita Hare Tara because think it'd be pretty. Maybe a good instrumental to write to? And honestly, as a listener, I will absolutely listen to Ashita Hare Tara. And enjoy it. Looking at the song from a critical standpoint though, it's just the most underwhelming song on this single.
I've gotta go with four apples for Ashita Hare Tara. This is the safest-sounding song on 17, but Ashita Hare Tara is still enjoyable! If you like Curumi Chronicle's more pop-oriented songs, you'll like Ashita Hare Tara. Me, I've heard better from her, but Ashita Hare Tara is a good effort and a nice-sounding song! So basically, how much you like it depends on your tastes.
After Ashita Hare Tara, things get a little bit funkier with Candy Trip. If I recall correctly, Candy Trip was the first glimpse of this single. This was another one of those where I wasn't sure if I'd end up liking it. Because Candy Trip is a little different for Curumi Chronicle. Oh, it's still technopop, but as I said before, it has a funkier sound. The most interesting part of Candy Trip are the vocals. Curumi Chronicle raps. Okay, it's not Perfume 575 amounts of rapping, but she very briefly raps a few lines before the chorus. The first time I heard her rapping, it was incredibly strange. I wouldn't say it was bad (but Curumi could never join Charisma.com), but the rapping was a very... interesting vocal choice. A choice that somehow grew on me? I'm not denying it sounds weird, but it's weird in a cool, almost artsy way. I at least have to give Curumi an E for effort for doing something different! There are some other cool vocal manipulations in Candy Trip, but the rap is the most standout part. The whispers in Candy Trip are another interesting different thing for Curumi Chronicle. Even the parts where it sounds like she has backup singers are cool and impressive too!
Beyond vocals, Candy Trip is a pretty cool song. It's cool in this weird, trippy way. That's rather appropriate considering the title of the song is Candy Trip. I'm not encouraging readers to get high to this song! I swear! I don't want to say that Candy Trip sounds retro, but it definitely sounds... not from this era. Honestly, I'm not sure how to describe Candy Trip. I think you could maybe categorize this as very, very upbeat lounge music? Is lounge technopop a thing? Candy Trip and Rainbow are the most distinctive songs on this single. I think Candy Trip may be the more experimental of the two. I haven't heard a song like this from Curumi Chronicle. I love seeing her branch out with different sounds; I think her producer handled Candy Trip really well. This song could have been an absolute wreck and instead ends up sounding like a strange and quirky but also groovy and cool song. When you first listen to Candy Trip, you might be a little weirded out but give it time to grow on you. I'm still not 100% sure what to make of Candy Trip, but all I know for sure is that I love this song.
And what's the best thing to do with songs you love? Give them five apples! And encourage other people to listen to them! So yeah, I wholeheartedly recommend Candy Trip. It's different for Curumi Chronicle, but it works. Candy Trip is delightfully trippy and wonderful (but please don't do drugs to this song).
Orange (Sing with Cello)
Not to be confused with the song on Second Spring EP, Orange (Sing with Cello) is exactly what you think it is. Curumi Chronicle covers her ballad Orange accompanied by only a cello. I loved the original Orange and thought that it was a nicely done techno ballad. Something that I've always wondered since discovering Curumi Chronicle (and what I wonder with every techno act I encounter) is how she sounds without all the vocal editing. Her raw, unfiltered voice. I thought I'd have to swim to Japan and go to one of her concerts to find out, but along came Orange (Sing with Cello). It is extremely refreshing to hear a technopop artist sing one of their own songs acoustically. In fact, it's something I wish Perfume would do that will never happen because management. Back to Curumi Chronicle, I love the arrangement for Orange (Sing with Cello). The only accompaniment is the aforementioned cello, and it sounds beautiful. I'm so happy they went the strings route instead of the piano route for this song. Not that I don't love piano ballads, but the cello resonates more strongly.
But the make-it or break-it factor for a song like Orange (Sing with Cello) is Curumi herself. Like with many ballads, Orange (Sing with Cello) relies mainly on her voice being able to carry the song. And since I'd never heard her unedited singing before, I was a little nervous as to how Curumi would sound. But honestly, I don't hear much of a difference between her natural voice and her vocoded voice. I mean, yes, there's definitely clearer editing with the latter, but Orange (Sing with Cello) still sounds like Curumi Chronicle. I think that just shows Curumi's own personal strength with her singing. Curumi handles herself very well on Orange (Sing with Cello)! She has a very, sweet-sounding voice, albeit a little soft, but that's not a problem with the bare-bones accompaniment. So of the two Oranges, which song is better? It's all a matter of whether you prefer a more techno ballad or acoustic ballad. Me personally, I actually lean more toward Orange (Sing with Cello). I still love the original, but I really love hearing Curumi sing on an acoustic track. I think she pulled off Orange (Sing with Cello) very well, and I hope to hear more acoustic versions of her songs in the future!
Big surprise here, Orange (Sing with Cello) gets an enthusiastic five apples from me. It's the perfect song to close 17 and a great song on its own. The original Orange is a beautiful ballad, and the cello in this version just makes the ballad even better. Curumi herself brings a sweet, gentle voice to this acoustic self-cover, and she's pretty much what makes Orange (Sing with Cello) work so well. Definitely check this song out if you want to hear Curumi's unedited voice!
When I listen to singles like 17, it makes me think I should just review devote more time to reviewing technopop artists. Because hot damn, this single is awesome. I had high expectations for Curumi Chronicle, and she did not disappoint with 17. With four original songs and one reworked acoustic song, 17 is twenty two minutes and four seconds of some wonderfully varied technopop. None of the songs on 17 feel unnecessary, not even the weakest track Ashita Hare Tara. Songs like Seventeen and Rainbow showcase the more futuristic side of Curumi's sound, Candy Trip is on its own level, Ashita Hare Tara is a breather song, and Orange (Sing with Cello) is the perfect way to end the single. Orange (Sing with Cello) is a particularly good track, opting for a strings and unedited vocals in lieu of Curumi's usual technopop sound and vocoded voice. I'm honestly not even sure what my favorite track on 17 is; all five songs are so different but they can all stand well on their own. I think I'm sticking with Rainbow, just because of how fun that song is. I'm happy enough that I have such a hard time picking my favorite song on this single, because they're all so good. After Second Spring EP, 17 is a step-up in both variety and originality.
17 has something for every Curumi Chronicle fan. You like her more idol technopop? You get Ashita Hare Tara! Want something to dance to? Rainbow's the song for you! Curious to hear her natural voice? Then there's Orange (Sing with Cello)! The strength of 17 is the variety of songs on it. Not a single song on this single feels like a waste of space. I'm usually not a huge fan of reworked songs, but even Orange (Sing with Cello) works well on this single. Of the two singles Curumi Chronicle released in August, 17 is supposed to show off the lighter side of her music. While there are no hardcore EDM songs on this single, the songs featured on 17 still have their own strengths. What I'm trying to say is that you should totally listen to this single. You should listen to all of Curumi Chronicle's music if you're a fan of technopop, but especially listen to this single. 17 offers a superb blend of technopop. It makes me even more excited to see what Curumi Chronicle plans on releasing in the future. Even if she hadn't also released Touch Me, 17 would have been a great single on its own. Dare I even say that I like this single better than Cling Cling?
I do dare! Giving 17 five apples is a no-brainer. This is definitely one of my favorite singles released this year. All the songs on it are great, Curumi Chronicle is great, you really should just go ahead and listen to her music. I swear you won't regret it. And if you do... sorry? I'll just keep on jamming out to this single! Now to move on to Touch Me...