I usually don’t do song by song review types or anything like that on this blog, but after the leaks (cough from the normal sources), I’m certain ⊿ (Triangle) deserves attention and praise for what its achieved – both for Nakata and for Perfume.
Starting with the songs themselves: Take off is a futuristic opener with a simple concept: a countdown from ten to one until the start of the actual songs. What it does differently is that each number is repeated three time – presumably once representing for each girl, and going off the triad concept of the album. The synth is gorgeous and the vocalizations add to the mystery of the short track. I do believe the transition into love the world could be slightly better handled, but the pairing is marvelous: similar synth sounds, but one mysterious and dark leading into one cheerful and poppy.
love the world is followed by Dream Fighter, and sounds like a fairly natural progression given that the two singles seemed to pair along from the very beginning. It then leads into edge(⊿-mix) – a more aggressive version on what is already an (shall I say it?) edgy song. Most of it sounds very similar to the original and extended versions of the track, but the additional synth created melodies inserted in between the vocals, along with the addition of distorted noise and pure instrumental portions, give the track even more of a gritty club feel than the original.
edge leads into NIGHT FLIGHT, this year’s PINO CM song. The song has a throwback feel with 80’s style synth instrumentals, but don’t pin it as retro: Perfume’s echoed vocals and a strong synth bass line give this track a modern twist. The song is sophisticated and is at the same time catchy.
Kiss and Music is next, a funky and sometimes dissonant slow track. Unlike most of Perfume’s music, Kiss and Music lacks a distinct pop melody and track – instead, it offers a fairly simple minor track paired with sensual, almost spoken lyrics.
It’s then a smooth transition into Zero Gravity that’s a fun midtempo version of 90’s shibuya-kei. It has a clear piano backing track to match soft and sweet vocals. The song is – for the lack of a better description – adorable, and is a nice change of style for the girls.
I still love U follows to give us a retro styled track paired with a unforgetably catchy melody. The instrumental itself sounds like 80s and 90s synth pop. The vocals switch between vocoded to be muffled and more distorted and to be fairly clear. The chorus is sweet and longing and wonderfully paired with strains of violin. The only fault of the song is breakdown before the last chorus: it adds a nice emphasis on the last part but should ideally be only half or less of its current length.
The best thing follows with fun twinkly synth sounds paired with a fun melody. The chorus is catchy and fun to sing along to. It doesn’t achieve anything new but does give a great song. It leads into Speed of Sound – which is less of a Perfume track than something like an interlude. There’s no distinct melody and Perfume only contributes spoken words into a colorfully varying song. The lack of melody makes the song more of a club than a pop song, but the song does provide a cute atmosphere.
The ending of the Speed of Sound leads nicely into the grating synth beginning to One Room Disco. Finally, the album ends with Negai (album mix). The difference would be the addition of acoustic piano and strings to the beginning, as well as along with additional acoustic effects throughout the song’s arrangement. The additional instruments sound a little messy paired with the heavy percussion during the bridge and refrains, but the addition of strings and timpani is a perfect addition during the choruses. There’s also a pleasant new acoustic ending to the song. I loved the original Negai, but I think the album mix offers a more personal, humanized version of the song – a fitting ending to an album that was strictly electronic.
Overall, I think ⊿ is an amazing album musically and Nakata has done a great job once again – there are definitely going to be new Perfume favorites coming out of this.
And to address the increasingly common viewpoint that Perfume is becoming capsule part two, I think ⊿ can confidently disprove that claim. It’s true that some of the songs wouldn’t look out of place in a current capsule album – like Take Off, Kiss and Music, or Speed of Sound – but the other tracks are all still the pop-based technopop Perfume fans know and love. Do you thinks Yes, the songs do feature significantly stronger club-based influences, but does anyone want Perfume’s music to have stalled permanently at the offerings in GAME? Yes, Perfume sounds differently in ⊿ – but they sounded differently in GAME from Complete Best too. It’s natural for an artist to evolve, even if the evolution is strongly based on the producer. I think its brave for Nakata and Perfume to try some drastically new styles in the album songs when they could have just have released a rehash of songs that sound right in place in GAME in order to continue off the sophomore album’s success.
Most importantly, ⊿ makes me realize how big an influence Perfume is in the music. No, I do not believe Nakata would be able to make I still love U as charming as he did if he had used Toshiko’s vocals instead of mixing Perfume’s three lines together. The vocoding has changed and it’s harder to differentiate the three voices – but you can still differentiate three different voices during the solos for most of the songs. Perfume still adds their personal charm to their songs and are still present.
If you’re feeling disappointed that Perfume in ⊿ no longer sounds like the Polyrhythm or Chocolate Disco Perfume you fell in love with, throw away your bias and just listen to the music for a moment, and tell me if you enjoy it. And if not, that’s fine, it’s just not your style: personally, my GAME loving heart still thinks GAME is one of the best albums of all time. But lets put Perfume’s history aside for a moment.
Hmm. That’s been a rambling. I guess in conclusion what I’m saying is just that ⊿ is an AMAZING album, and I’m loving several of the new album tracks with just a few listens. Go on and give them a try – whether you’re a big fan of Perfume’s sound in GAME or not, you might be pleasantly surprised!
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