My thoughts on “YOUTOPIA”, the 3rd studio album from You’ll Melt More!
Release Date: November 29th 2017
1. Aruku no Osoi Inu
3. Music 3, 4-bu de Owatchimau yo ne
4. Moi Moi
5. Shinbori Kumu Response Suru
6. You to Piazza
7. Summer Bokan (Remastered)
10. A! Sekai wa Hiroi Sugoi
11. Gorogoro Mono Omoi
12. Night Hiking (Remasterd)
13. Eien no Shunkan
14. must Sei
2017 has been both a very busy as well as significant year for You’ll Melt More!. Not only did the group release 2 singles/EPs, 1 mini-album and now the album that I’ll be sharing my thoughts on today, but it was also the group’s 5th anniversary. Sure their numbers might be noticeably less these days but you can’t deny the group’s success in recent years as a 4-piece. A lot of groups don’t even last half as long as You’ll Melt More! have and can’t even claim to hold a candle to their achievements in that time. It’s kinda weird saying stuff like that because 5 years really isn’t that much time, but it’s like an eternity in Idol terms…or so I’m told anyway.
That being said, You’ll Melt More! have run pretty hot and cold with me in 2017. Some of the material they put out was fantastic but on the other hand there was a good number of songs that didn’t really do too much for me. You’ll have probably seen as such if you checked out any of my reviews, which I will likely be linking to later in the article as there’s quite a few songs from this year included on this album. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t like everything a group puts out, but it kinda sucks to never really know what I’m going to get. I guess that works with You’ll Melt More!’s unconventional stylings but I never know where to set my expectations.
Anyway, “YOUTOPIA” (love the name by the way) is You’ll Melt More!’s first full album since 2015’s “YOU ARE THE WORLD”, which is regarded by many as essential listening if you’re just getting into this whole “Alt Idol” thing. A very tough act to try to follow, and just by looking at the tracklist I can pretty much say that it’s not going to reach such a cult status…for me anyway. Still, there’s some pretty good songs on here and hopefully the smattering of new tracks will also be fun to listen to. I’m just going to try to keep my expectations in check and see how things shake out.
The album starts off the right way, with a brand new song. “Aruku no Osoi Inu” opens with drumming, lots and lots of drumming. Not something you typically get from You’ll Melt More! so it’s pretty interesting in a way. Once we finally get some vocal action, it doesn’t really go how you might expect either. I mean, I wasn’t expecting a measured, mid-tempo “Ballad” style delivery at least. Despite not turning out how I expected, I do like the song quite a bit actually. The instrumental for example is very well constructed with lots of interesting things going on. The vocals are also quite good with a hook that’s pretty subtle but does eventually start to work its magic on you. Not sure I would have opened with this one but there’s not much to complain about the song itself.
We follow that one up with yet another new song in the form of “Nigenai!!”. Now this is more the style of song that I would expect out of You’ll Melt More!. I’m very glad that the clapping from the opening section didn’t decide to stick around for the rest of the song though. This time out we get a much more upbeat Synth-Rock style song with an instrumental that is sure to get your head bobbing and your foot tapping. Things don’t get super crazy on the vocal side of things but they’ve put in a pretty great chorus on this one and if you like You’ll Melt More!’s vocal harmonies then there’s a bit of that going on here too. I’m kinda bummed out that this wasn’t its own single considering my disappointment with what You’ll Melt More! have put out in that format this past year. Oh well, looks like they’re making it up to me with the new material on this album…so far.
Three tracks in and we get our first dose of some older material. “Music 3, 4-bu de Owatchimau yo ne” originally featured on You’ll Melt More!’s “Disco Psychedelica” mini-album (review here) and since this review is going to be pretty long as is, I’ll just give brief recaps of the older stuff and you can read the full reviews for yourselves if you so wish. Anyway, this one was one of the better offerings from “Disco Psychedelica” and featured a pretty darn catchy chorus which as you know is something I’m all about. It’s more of a Rock number but there is a little bit of synth going on in the beginning. The build to the climax is also crazy hype so there’s very little (for me) not to like with this one.
Let’s keep the previously released material rolling with “Moi Moi” which also comes from the “Disco Psychedelica” mini-album (review here). I wasn’t super into this one, partly because they billed it as a Glam Rock song and I don’t think it’s really anything close to that but your opinion may vary. There was also for some reason a constant synthesizer hum in the background throughout the song which you couldn’t help but notice. It’s a shame really because there was actually some pretty cool synthesizer and guitar parts going on and this knocked the shine off a bit. Pretty good chorus though so there’s that too at least. Not exactly a bad song but more fair to middling than great.
“Shinbori Kumu Response Suru” brings us back to the new material and this one probably falls more towards the “unconventional” end of the You’ll Melt More! music scale. It has a very Chiptune sounding instrumental that sounds like it came straight out of a retro video game (or “a video game” if you’re old like me). I haven’t looked at the writing credits but I feel like DJ Younapi might have had a slight hand in this one. I thought the vocals might have been a little bit more catchy than they ended up being but they fit the song very well regardless of my preferences. I also think the chorus will probably grow a lot more on me over time too. We’ve been doing pretty good as far as new songs go on this album so far. Hopefully this keeps up.
More new songs you say? I have to admit that I wasn’t really sure where we were going with “You to Piazza” when it opened with a pretty vanilla “Ballad” style vocal. Thankfully they were just slow rolling me though and the song eventually broke into something much more interesting and with a bit more energy. Well the chorus and the build-up to it at least, the verses are played pretty straight but everything else is pretty fun and full of the usual personality that most people would associate with You’ll Melt More!’s music. I have to admit that I kinda like when they do songs that show off both sides of their music though. I’m also glad that this song didn’t end up being a straight up “Ballad”. Very glad about that.
You’ll Melt More!’s “WE ARE A ROCK FESTIVAL” mini-album (review here) is one of my favorites releases from the group and something I would recommend anyone getting into them for the first time to check out. “Summer Bokan” in particular was a highlight from that release so seeing the word “Remastered” next to it in the track listing for this album mildly concerned me. Turns out I was worrying over nothing though because song still sounds awesome, even if they have cleaned the instrumentals up just a touch. If you like songs with a bunch of character and a super catchy chorus then this is going to be one that you’ll want to check out. This is the kind of stuff that I listen to You’ll Melt More! for in case anyone was wondering.
Back to the new stuff next with the rather simply titled “Yaru”. Man, they really cranked the bass on this one didn’t they? Definitely helped to break in the new headphones I got for Christmas that’s for sure. This is a very dense sounding Synth-Rock song, with the expected You’ll Melt More! style vocals to accompany the instrumental. I really like this song, but I think I like it more for the instrumental than anything else. That’s not exactly a bad thing, but I kinda wish they’d put a bit more power behind the vocals or something because they do feel like they get a bit lost in the mix at times. Definitely a song you’d want to jump around to and I for sure wouldn’t skip it in a playlist. Just a couple things I’d have done differently, as usual.
The Oomori Seiko composed “Unmee” originally featured on You’ll Melt More!’s “Disco Psychedelica” (review here) mini-album. Generally speaking I’m a fan of Oomori’s work, and this song features a lot of her typical calling cards. This one didn’t really hit it off with me though because it’s not really the kind of song I’m listening to You’ll Melt More! for. It’s one of those slower “Ballad” deals that they have tried to jazz up a bit with the odd drum or guitar part. It’s not a bad song and like most things I’m sure it plays a lot better in a live setting. My headphones aren’t a live setting though so I can only go by what my laptop is spitting out from its hard drive. Definitely check this out if you’re a Seiko fan though.
Guess it’s time to go back to back with the previously released tracks, and also time to go back to back with songs that I didn’t particularly care for for similar reasons. “A! Sekai wa Hiroi Sugoi” first appeared on You’ll Melt More!’s “TALKING HITS EP” (review here) which didn’t really come out that long ago. Yeah, this one is another meandering “Ballad” that as we all know isn’t really my cup of tea. Granted the instrumental is pretty interesting so at least the song has that going for it I guess. It’s not really going to knock anyone dead though. It’s also pretty similar to a few other You’ll Melt More! songs that they’ve done in this style. It’s fine but by no means essential listening in my opinion.
I have to admit, I’m not really sure what to make of “Gorogoro Mono Omoi”. I think my view might be tainted because it’s another kinda slower song in what has now become a string of them. In reality I don’t think it’s that bad of a song, in fact it almost feels a little bit festive in a way…or maybe it’s just because it’s that time of year. The instrumental is pretty pleasant although once again I kinda feel like it’s trying to smother the vocals at times. Vocally things are alright and the chorus is kinda getting there for me but I just think it’s missing something, which it probably isn’t actually but it’s just me isn’t it? Better than the last two songs in my opinion, but for sure don’t put 3 of these kinds of songs in a row, I mean come on now.
We make a return to the “WE ARE A ROCK FESTIVAL” mini-album (review here) next for a remastered version of “Night Hiking”. I can’t really tell what they’ve remastered though, which I guess isn’t a bad thing because I already had a lot of love for the original recording. More specifically, the synthesizer melody on this song is absolutely fantastic, to my ears at least. It’s worth the price of admission alone in my book. Vocally it’s actually a pretty nice mix of both the mellow and eccentric sides of You’ll Melt More! and there’s a little bit of chatter here and there too so if that’s not your thing then don’t say I didn’t warn you. This isn’t even one of the best songs on “WE ARE A ROCK FESTIVAL” so you should definitely go check it out if you like this one.
Our last previously released track to feature on this album is “Eien no Shunkan”, which is a b-side from the “TALKING HITS EP” release (review here). I actually liked this song quite a bit, even if it was pretty similar to “A! Sekai wa Hiroi Sugoi” in a lot of ways. Vocally I think “Eien no Shunkan” is more impressive though and I like how they broke it up with some rapping and the occasional chatter. In a lot of ways this one reminded me of a song that Zenbu Kimi no Sei da might release, which probably contributed in some way to how much I enjoyed it. If you’re a fan of either sparkly synthesizers or Zenkimi then this song might be a good starting point for you if you’d like to check You’ll Melt More! out.
This review has been a bit of a marathon, but we hit the home straight with “must Sei” or “must go” as it’s apparently supposed to be pronounced…how odd. It starts off pretty Chiptune sounding and we even get a synthesizer solo of sorts that kinda sounded like digital bagpipes or something. It settles down a bit once the vocals kick in though…until we get another bagpipe solo. I’m probably doing a terrible job of selling you this song right now, but those synth parts are honestly a pretty big part of the song and I’m totally not just trying to big up my Scottish heritage or anything like that. Apart from that, the chorus is pretty good although the vocals in general only really find a second gear towards the end of the song which is slightly disappointing. A very pleasant and enjoyable song all in all though.
“YOUTOPIA” finally draws to a close with “Tenjiku”. It’s an 8 and a half minute…epic I guess could be a word that some might use to describe it. They incorporate an array of different instruments throughout the song, some of them being…am I allowed to say “ethnic” anymore? Anyway, ethnic sounding instruments I guess because the title is some old east-Asian way of saying “India” according to Google. I kinda dig the opening half of this song because it sorta reminds me of Experimental Jazz music in a way. The second half is a bit more like a You’ll Melt More! song and it’s a pretty decent You’ll Melt More! song at that. Did this really need to be getting on for 9 minutes long? Not really, but it’s definitely an experience that I think you should all have at least once. Not sure it’s the redefinition of Idol music that some people were claiming though.
So I obviously didn’t love every song on “YOUTOPIA”, but considering the stupid thing is 15 tracks long that should come as no surprise. Also, just because some of this stuff isn’t my cup of tea doesn’t mean that the songs themselves aren’t objectively very good. That shouldn’t have to be said, but I know how some of you guys get. Anyway, I don’t think this album quite reaches “YOU ARE THE WORLD” levels of cult status (right now anyway) but in my book it’s still essential listening if you’re talking about big releases from 2017. Why didn’t they put “Detekoi!” on here though?
You’ll Melt More! celebrated their 5th anniversary in style with this album. They also don’t show any signs of slowing down either so expect them to be sticking around for a while yet (isn’t that just the kiss of death?). I’m looking forward to seeing what 2018 brings and I’m sure my love/hate relationship with their musical releases will continue this year as well. Nothing but respect for both the group and their management for everything they’ve achieved so far though. Just come play some shows outside of Asia won’t ya?