My thoughts on the sophomore album from Zenbu Kimi no Sei da.
Release Date: November 9th 2016
1. Yamikawa Gunmachi
2. Mudai Gasshou
3. Alternative Melancholy
4. Ita Karumaba◯Su
5. Loser Gospel
6. Bocchi Connect Owari
7. Haikei, Otona Guramu
9. WORLD END CRISIS feat. ◎Shidare
10. Boku Tabetamo Kimi no Subete wo
11. Dokushou Mudai
12. Ueyueyuo -Hinekurenotari-
13. Neo Neo Jealous Mero Chaos
It seems to be becoming a bit of a theme here on this site that I somehow end up being super late to the party when it comes to reviewing Zenbu Kimi no Sei da releases. By the time that you’re reading this review, their second album will have been out for about a month or so, so this isn’t going to be the most timely of reviews once again. Granted, I’d say that going to Japan for two weeks and seeing Zenkimi twice in that time is a pretty valid excuse for my tardiness, in my opinion anyway. If you’re interested in hearing all about my escapades in the land of the rising sun, you can check out my series of blogs where I recap the various shows, events and what have you that I went to. My plug game is on point, right?
Screwing around aside (geez, poor choice of words), the release of this album was very much overshadowed by what I guess you would consider a “scandal” in the idol business. I honestly couldn’t care less, but two members of Zenkimi (Gomochi and Aza) were photographed hanging out with fans in what was possibly the most innocent manner possible. “Girls in hanging out with guys shock!” is the sort of dumb headline I’d use if I was writing about it, but in Japan you have to keep up appearances so both of them have got to go. Basically, by the end of the year almost half of the people responsible for the vocal work on this album will be gone and that’s a damn shame. If you want more details on what went down, head on over to Homicidols for more detailed coverage.
I’m going to try to review this album while doing my best to ignore the current unfortunate situation that the group finds itself in. If I hadn’t been away and had the time to review it soon after it was released, none of this would even have been brought up because it wasn’t widely known to the public at the time. I did feel like I had to include what’s been going on these past couple of weeks just for context sake though, it also gave me something to write about for the intro to this review. Anyway, I really enjoyed Zenkimi’s first album (you can check out my review of it here) a whole lot so I came in with high hopes for this one. I’m pretty confident that Zenkimi will meet my expectations so let’s see how they did.
The album opens with “Yamikawa Gunmachi”, oh quick aside but I pretty much had to translate all of these song titles by myself. My Japanese is questionable at best, so if I got anything wrong my bad. Anyway, this song has a very pure, almost childish personality I guess you could say. The instrumentals are very “bright” and cheerful sounding and the vocals would also tend to trend in that direction too. I wouldn’t say that it’s an earworm like “Yamikawa IMRAD’s” opening song “Neo Jealous✡Mero Chaos” was, but it’s still an enjoyable song to listen to. There’s also quite a bit going on that might not be as apparent on the first listen, so I’d say that this song also develops quite a bit the more you listen to it. I like that, I like that a lot.
Track 2 on the album is “Mudai Gasshou”, which was Zenkimi’s first physical single release as a group. It only came out back in April, so it’s still fairly new, as are the group that released it. I wrote a review of it on the site so if you’re after some more detailed thoughts or just some further reading then you can check that out by clicking here. The short version is that this is a song that is fairly typical of the type of work that Zenkimi have built their brand on. I wouldn’t say that it’s my favorite song of theirs or anything like that, and it could be a little bit catchier but that’s just my opinion. On the whole, it’s a pretty solid song that fits nicely into an ever expanding catalog.
Following on from that, we have what I believe is the second totally new song to feature on this album. I’m not really sure what an “Alternative Melancholy” would entail, but it’s a pretty cool sounding title for a song right? If this album is your first introduction to Zenkimi (where have you even been this year?) then I guess if you want a song that really captures what they’re usually all about then this song is another pretty good representation of that. The instrumental on this song is pretty infectious if you ask me, although I can sort of see why some people might not get down with it. I’m also a big fan of all of the solo vocal parts, because I don’t think we see that nearly enough in Idol music in general. Again though, the vocals are also probably an acquired taste and won’t appeal to some. Ah, opinions.
We’re back to another older (I say that but it came out in like July) song next with “Ita Karumaba◯Su”. This was featured as a b-side on the “Boku Tabetamo Kimi no Subete wo” single (more on that song later) so I was a little bit surprised to see it on here. I’m definitely not disappointed that it’s on here though, because this song has grown on me a good bit since I reviewed it when the single came out. It’s definitely a slightly more sedate offering than what Zenkimi are typically known for, but there’s still a good amount of quirkiness in there so that you know it’s a Zenkimi song. It is much more Rock focused than much of the Zenkimi catalog though, so perhaps this song might be a bit more accessible to those of you who haven’t been that fond of the other stuff you’ve heard so far.
Speaking of pretty cool sounding song titles, “Loser Gospel” has to be up there right? Maybe I just have unconventional tastes, but you do have to admit that a title like that does stand out from the crowd. This song has a bit more of a Rock lean than a lot of the material that Zenkimi typically release. That being said, this kind of thing is something that they’ve dabbled in from time to time so it’s good to see that they’re still making songs like this even though I guess they’d be more synonymous with wacky, Denpa-ish Pop songs to the casual observer. Like a lot of Zenkimi songs, I really like how the vocals are arranged on this one, and there’s plenty of solos too. By Idol standards, I guess this is a pretty short song but I think it says what it needs to say without being dragged out to 4 or 5 minutes like a lot of songs end up being these days.
“Bocchi Connect Owari” is another song that previously featured on a single. It’s a b-side from the “Mudai Gasshou” release, which as I mentioned earlier you can get a more thorough rundown of by reading my full review. My opinion of this song hasn’t really changed much since my initial review, it’s a pretty anime OP/ED sounding deal, which isn’t a bad thing if you’re looking towards the future of the group. There’s lots of synths and vocal modulation, which Zenkimi either seem to embrace to the extreme or for the most part reject depending on whatever song you happen to be listening to at the time. It’s a pleasant listen for sure, and it’s probably pretty accessible for those of you who are big into your anime themes and things of that nature.
Next up we have another new song in the form of “Haikei, Otona Guramu”. This song has a pretty Heavy Metal sounding opening, which definitely wasn’t something I was expecting to hear on this album. That being said, the rest of the song doesn’t really continue down that path. It eases up a bit and we’re presented with a Rock song, for the most part anyway. The Metal guitar riffs and what have you do makes the odd appearance here and there but I wouldn’t say that they’re as prominent as the opening moments would lead you to believe. The vocals once again are just great, they’re pretty obviously catchy of course but the way it’s all structured definitely plays a big part in that, and might not be something that gets appreciated on the first couple of listens. This is one of my favorite songs on the album.
I had a bit of trouble translating the title for this song, but I think it’s supposed to be “Philiaphilia”. Of course I could be horribly wrong but oh well. We’re venturing into Heavy Metal territory again on this song, which the more I think about it isn’t really a direction I want Zenkimi to go in as a main focus. It’s not that they don’t do it well, far from it actually. I just don’t think there’s enough groups doing that Denpa style of song very well these days, so it would suck to lose one that is. Plus, their sister group Yukueshirezutsurezure are already doing the screamy, hardcore style of music. Like I said though, this is a good song and the screaming is definitely a bit different so I dunno, call me subjectively conflicted but objectively full of praise.
Speaking of Yukueshirezutsurezure, one of their members features on “WORLD END CRISIS” which is the next track I’m going to be talking about here. The member in question is the very lovely Shidare (I met her so I can say that, she really was lovely to talk to), who also has quite the set of pipes on her. Those pipes are in full effect on this song too, with some very impressive screaming to accompany what is a pretty dramatic and emotional sounding song. Once again, we’re going going off into that Hard Rock or Heavy Metal territory so I’m not really sure what’s going on with regards to the musical direction of the group at this point. This song is also great like the last one though, so it’s not that big of a deal.
We’re back to some older (kinda) material next with “Boku Tabetamo Kimi no Subete wo”. This was the last single that Zenkimi released before this album and I already talked about “Ita Karumaba◯Su” which also featured on the release. Once again you can get my full thoughts by checking out the review I wrote a few months back. This is the Denpa-style song that I personally prefer from Zenkimi, and this particular song is one of my favorites that they’ve released thus far. It’s a pretty catchy song with a good melody, which as you all know are two things that I personally look for. Like I said in the original review the chorus could maybe be a little bit better, but I think I was probably being a bit harsh in that assessment. The great songs keep coming.
“Dokushou Mudai” rounds the corner and brings us into the home straight of the album. I believe this is yet another new song, but at this point a lot of these song titles are starting to blur together. The opening instrumental on this song is pretty nice, I definitely enjoy the beat that it has going on and it has a pretty bright and happy personality to it. We’re back to the synth driven sound that I prefer from Zenkimi so that’s also a plus. The vocal work on this song is pretty laid back compared to much of the rest of the album, which I think works when put into that context. I kinda dig the parts in the song where…I guess all the members are sort of doing a spoken word type thing instead of actually singing, it just sounded cool to me. This certainly isn’t the most memorable Zenkimi song ever but it’s a fine effort.
The album’s penultimate song is another one that has featured on a previous single. “Ueyueyuo -Hinekurenotari-” was a part of the “Mudai Gassho” release, and again you can get a full review of that single by clicking here. I think this is a pretty awesome song that does a really good job of fusing Zenkimi’s Denpa leanings with the Heavy Metal style of song that they seem to be dabbling in a lot more lately. The guitar riffs and drumming on this song are great and I love the delivery of the vocals throughout. Again it does kinda sound like something that Yukueshirezutsurezure should be doing, although I don’t think they’d have that floor filling Dance segment that makes an appearance a couple of times over the course of this song. Another one of my favorite Zenkimi songs.
Speaking of favorite Zenkimi songs, the album closes with a re-recording of what is hands down my favorite song that Zenkimi have released to date. “Neo Neo Jealous✡Mero Chaos” is pretty much the same song as “Neo Jealous✡Mero Chaos” which featured on the debut album “Yamikawa IMRAD” (again, check out the review here). I say pretty much, because it has been re-recorded and they have sort of changed a couple of minor things here and there. I’m generally of the opinion that you can’t ever really top the original (“Nerve” I’m looking at you) and I think that opinion isn’t going to change with this song. It’s really good of course, but I’ve just listened to and love the original so much that any re-do of it was going to have a hard time with me.
From an individual song standpoint and as a complete package, this album is really great. I’m not quite sure Zenkimi have managed to top their debut album, but they definitely came close with this one that’s for sure. Of course, if you’re not into the kinds of music that Zenkimi are building their brand on then they’re not going to be for you. They’re definitely going for a very interesting mix of fans from the Denpa and Metal genres though, so if you’re into either of those then this album and their debut are definitely worth your time to check out.
Unfortunately, like I mentioned at the start of this review, by the end of the year almost half of the girls responsible for this and the other releases from Zenkimi in 2016 will no longer be with the group. Management has said that the group will continue with the 3 remaining members and I’m assuming 2-3 new members that will be announced at some point in the not too distant future. It’s hard to say what the shape of the group and its music will be going forward but I’m hopeful that everyone involved will be able to work through what is a pretty major setback. Zenkimi are pretty much my favorite group right now so I definitely want them to continue and be successful in 2017 and beyond.
Buy on Amazon JP: Regular Edition
Buy on CDJapan: Regular Edition