My thoughts on Zenbu Kimi no Sei da’s 3rd album “Egoistic Eat Issues”.
Release Date: September 6th 2017
2. Mudai Gasshou
3. Misfit Lovers
4. Wagamama Shinsei Hominina
5. Makeinu Whining
6. Hohei Dystopia
7. Sophomore Sick Sacrifice
8. Kimi Sou wi Hana Chirinu
9. World is mine
11. Omohi Uta
1. DyingCRY (Mashiro solo)
2. Hiyokurenri (Megumi solo)
3. Licorice Irony (Yotsu solo)
4. 3984 Rhapsody (Mene solo)
5. meshi ea! (Togaren solo)
It does rather feel like Zenbu Kimi no Sei da are in a perpetual state of rebuilding from a setback. This isn’t the cheeriest way to open a review but stick with me. As I was saying, Zenkimi have had some fairly bad luck in the past year or so. We of course had the widely reported “scandal” that forced two members (Gomochi and Aza) to quit the group at the end of last year, and then the excitement that their replacements (Togaren and Mene) brought…for a little while anyway.
If you’re a Zenkimi fan then you’ll be well aware that Mene has now left the group due to poor health. The timing of this was particularly unfortunate as it occurred very shortly before the announcement of their third studio album “Egoistic Eat Issues” which I will be talking about in a bit. Again, Zenkimi just can’t seem to catch a break and the cycle of rebuilding from a setback appears to be beginning all over again.
It’s not all bad news though. 2017 has seen the group being made the center piece of Codomomental, their production agency. Whether this was always the intention or a case of steering into the adversity that struck the group at the beginning of the year is unclear. What we have seen though is crazy levels of promotion, a high volume of quality musical output and a pretty relentless touring schedule. How they’ve quite managed to find the time to put together the 16 track behemoth of an album that is “Egoistic Eat Issues” is a mystery. Let’s see what exactly Zenkimi are bringing to the table this time.
The album opens with “Dokuhakuen”, which is fitting seeing as it is also the song being used for the majority of the promotional aspect of the release. Anyone familiar with previous Zenkimi works will find the opening instrumental fairly familiar although the faux-rapping that follows perhaps slightly less so. It features quite a bit over the course of the song. They also try a couple of other little things that you don’t hear often but at its core “Dokuhakuen” is a pretty Zenkimi Zenkimi song. A really catchy EDM/Rock instrumental and everyone getting their own chance to shine vocally. A great way to kick the album off.
Next up is “Mudai Gasshou” which is a previously released song that was actually Zenkimi’s first proper single. The song featured on this album is an updated version however as they obviously had to add Togaren and Mene’s vocals to the mix. I think there might actually also be a version sans Mene’s vocals as the song is being used for a drama currently I believe. They did a pretty good job with this rework in my opinion. There’s the obvious differences between the two but they didn’t stray too far from the original formula. If you’d like to read my thoughts on the original version, feel free to head over here.
We go back to the new material for the next track which is titled “Misfit Lovers”. It’s hard not to think “kid’s cartoon song” when you hear the first 20 seconds or so but maybe that’s just me. The song kind of turns into this Indie Rock type deal for the verses, which was pretty interesting and I think it actually worked quite well. The chorus is a slightly more typical Zenkimi sounding affair and for some reason there’s a harsh vocal…it’s a bit more than a breakdown honestly, diversity eh? It kinda feels like they tossed a bunch of different things into a pot and mixed them together for this song. It works though so I can’t really say anything bad about it.
It’s starting to feel like we’re flip-flopping between old and new material because here comes “Wagamama Shinsei Hominina”. This song was the a-side for the single that Zenkimi released before putting out this album and you are more than welcome to read my take on the entire thing by clicking here. I don’t really notice any glaring differences between the album track and the original so anything they have changed is minor at best. I have zero problems with that too as the song was already really good as it was. This is definitely a highlight of Zenkimi’s recent output that I would encourage you all to check out.
I’m starting to get a bit dizzy with all of this going back and forth between old and new material. “Makeinu Whining” or…”Underdog Whining”?, another new song is next in the rotation. This is a bit of an odd one, in that’s fairly stripped back for a Zenkimi song. There was times when I was listening that I kinda felt like I was listening to one of those trendy Indie Rock bands that are oh so popular in Japan right now. The song is very guitar and drum centric with the only real synthesized elements of note being the vocoding of the vocals here and there. Definitely not what you would expect out of Zenkimi but it’s a pretty pleasing song to listen to. Not bad.
The pattern of new/old/new finally breaks as we mark the mid point of the album with “Hohei Dystopia” or “Infantry Dystopia” I guess? Not sure what to make of that title, but the opening instrumental of this song does kind of remind me of BiS’s “SOCiALiSM” a bit. It’s probably the horns and double kick drums. It does give off a bit of a marching band feel I suppose. The vocals incorporate a bit of everything that Zenkimi are typically known for, that being gang vocals, nonsensical rambling, quirky sound effects and latterly some harsh vocals. The song has a pretty nice beat to it and the vocals are catchy in their own way. It’s perhaps a bit on the short side but it’s probably my favorite of the new material thus far.
Our break from previously released material doesn’t last long however because following on from that little number is “Sophomore Sick Sacrifice”. This was the a-side for Zenkimi’s third single and I wrote a review of said single that you can check out here. I wasn’t super into this song initially but after a few plays it really started to grow on me. I really like the groovy piano intro too, it’s just awesome. Not really hearing too many if any differences at all between this album version and the original so pretty much everything in my original review is applicable here. Solid Zenkimi song that wasn’t afraid to experiment just a little bit here and there.
Back to the new stuff once again for the next track “Kimi Sou wi Hana Chirinu”. The title is a bit tricky to explain but it’s basically a reference to those plants that explode as a way of spreading their seeds…I think. The instrumental goes pretty heavy on the synthesizer and the vocals get a dash of vocoder for good measure. This one is less hectic than most Zenkimi songs but it does have the odd moment of madness in the sea of relative tranquility. Zenkimi don’t really trot out a ballad that often but the calmer moments in this song do have elements of one. I can’t say there’s anything I particularly dislike about this song but it didn’t really do a whole lot to win me over either.
How about some more new songs? Well, to be honest I did for a split second think that Zenkimi had done a cover of the Hatsune Miku classic when I saw the title of “World is mine” but that isn’t actually the case. However once again we have a song that you wouldn’t necessarily think would come from Zenkimi. Guitars are the order of the day once again and we get this kind of Alternative Rock inspired composition that Zenkimi sing over in their “typical” Zenkimi style. It’s a pretty nice song so don’t get me wrong but it’s another instance of Zenkimi coloring outside the lines, which I think I kinda like just so long as they don’t start straying into Tsurezure territory again.
For the album’s penultimate track, we have “Toroimeraimī”. It probably means something pretty cool but my Japanese is nowhere near good enough for me to even hazard a guess. Well don’t I look like an idiot when I said Zenkimi don’t really do ballads and along comes a pretty ballad sounding song. I kinda have a love…hate is such a strong word it’s a saying so fine, relationship with the vocals on this song, in that I love some of them and hate others. No finger pointing here, but I think doing these stripped back style songs are a double edged sword in some cases. On the instrumental side of things, there isn’t really a ton to talk about. There’s some nice piano playing but it’s pretty unassuming besides that. Probably the weakest song on the album but there has been some killers to be fair.
The album climaxes with “Omohi Uta” or “Family Song” according to Google-sensei. Isn’t that all nice and sentimental or what? This song certainly gives off a pretty strong impression of sentimentality anyway. It also feels like an appropriate song to close the album with. It’s hard to explain, but it actually feels like it’s building up to a climax that sort of comes but gets snuffed out like a fleeting moment in time. I’m probably bigging it up far too much, but I do really like this song and the work put in on the guitar plays a huge part in that. I really hope this song gets played live because I have to imagine it’s that much better in such a setting.
But wait! There’s more! If you buy the limited edition version of the album you also get 5 bonus songs! They’re solo songs sung by each of the members and first up is Mashiro with “DyingCRY”. This song is a little schizophrenic because on the one hand we have Mashiro’s usual wispy sounding voice but then out of nowhere we get some pretty brutal harsh vocals. I’m not 100% sure it’s her doing the screaming but I’m definitely loving this song and its Melodic Hardcore style. Granted it does sound more like something Tsurezure might do but it’s a really good song so it’s all good in my book. Color me impressed.
Next up we have Megumi’s solo song “Hiyokurenri”. It’s pretty much the exact opposite of Mashiro’s contribution, instead opting for a very melancholic sounds…until once again out of nowhere we get some crazy harsh vocals. What’s up with that? It feels like the song flows back and forth between a state of sadness and extreme frustration, it’s really quite something. The instrumental matches both moods well, although it could have perhaps had a bit more bite during the more emotionally charged moments. If songs that create great atmospheres and vivid imagery are your thing then I think you’re going to really like this one.
It’s Yotsu’s time to shine next with “Licorice Irony”. In my opinion Yotsu doesn’t get as much credit as she deserves for what she adds to Zenkimi’s songs so it’s good she finally gets to show off what she can do. I bet most of you didn’t realize those cute, anime sounding vocals were her right? This song pretty much has all the hallmarks of a mid to late 2000s anime song and by that I mean fuzzy sounding synthesizers, piano and sugary sweet vocals. Anime songs are pretty hit or miss for me but I like “Licorice Irony” quite a bit and wouldn’t mind seeing Yotsu get a bit more love in the future.
Just in case you hadn’t had your fill of cutesy anime sounding songs, the now unfortunately absent Mene has you covered. “3984 Rhapsody” also sort of reminds me of that mid 2000s anime style but with a few differences. There’s a lot more vocal modulation going on with this song and the instrumental is very bright and sparkly sounding. If Yotsu’s solo effort didn’t do it for you then you’re probably not going to like this one either in all honesty. It’s not really my thing but I know there’s a pretty big following out there for this kind of stuff so the fact it will probably never see the light of day live is unfortunate.
Rounding out this batch of solo songs is Togaren and “meshi ea!”. Togaren is considered by a lot of people I know to be one of the strongest vocalists in Zenkimi and if we’re using these solo songs as a base then I would tend to agree with that assessment. The instrumental takes a bit of a backseat on this song, which is a shame because it’s a pretty nice synth/piano type of deal that I guess isn’t too dissimilar to a typical Zenkimi instrumental. In fact, this is what I imagine most Zenkimi songs would sound like if there was only one vocalist. Like I said, the vocals stole the show and what a great performance it was. Not too shabby for a former Zenkimi fangirl huh?
As a fan of Zenkimi, I’m pretty satisfied with how this album turned out. Not only were the 11 main songs all enjoyable in their own way but we also got 5 bonus tracks where the girls got a chance to show off their talents and personalities that we sometimes don’t appreciate as much as we should in a group setting. I guess the only thing that sucks is these recordings have instantly become dated due to Mene’s departure.
It will certainly be interesting to see what happens with Zenkimi going forward. Their sister group Yukueshirezutsurezure have had their own membership setbacks recently too so I guess this period of turmoil will continue for a while yet. At least Zenkimi have their insanely massive nationwide tour to look forward to which sees them travel to every corner of Japan over the next 6 or so months. Your boy even has to travel all the way to Nagano just to catch a glimpse this time.