My thoughts on “Kanjou Sensome Hikari Emotion”, the first single from WILL-O’.
Release Date: June 4th 2019
1. Kanjou Sensome Hikari Emotion
2. Light of Hope
4. Renjou Shinjou Clumsy
5. un chain
You guys seem to enjoy it when I feature less well known groups, or even groups that I don’t normally cover so I figured why not do another one of these reviews today. At the very least nobody seems to outright hate them anyway. Plus, I get to challenge myself in the writing department a little bit and if we’re all lucky then maybe we find a new group or at least some new music that we can all enjoy. That’s the idea anyway, you guys be the judge if it’s working or not.
WILL-O’ are the subject of today’s review, though some of you perhaps will remember them better as Alloy which is what they were going by before deciding on a name change a little over a year ago. “Kanjou Sensome Hikari Emotion” is the group’s first physical single under this name, though they have released several digital ones previously. It comes in three different versions, each with a different b-side, because that’s still a thing in 2019 I guess. Or you could save yourselves some cash and get the digital edition which has all of the tracks.
I’m fairly familiar with the older Alloy material and I did catch a song or two from WILL-O’ in the past year or so but I haven’t kept up with their more recent material. As such I’m not totally sure what’s going to be on offer here but past form would suggest that it should be some pretty high quality stuff, perhaps slanted in a Rock sort of direction. It’s a pretty big moment in the group’s history though so it’ll be interesting to see how they’ve marked the occasion. Let’s take a listen and find out.
My journey into the relative unknown begins with the single’s title track “Kanjou Sensome Hikari Emotion”. The song opts to get things going with some very clean and technically impressive vocals accompanied by what I think is a synthesized string section before transitioning into a very cymbal heavy drumbeat and absolutely fantastic guitar solo. From there the song progresses into a pretty bouncy Rock number with a good amount of distortion being provided by some synthesizer, something I wasn’t totally sold on at first but as the song kept going I eventually came around to the idea. The instrumental does have quite a lot going on but I think it’s just on the right of side of going too overboard. Vocally things are pretty fantastic actually, and I say that as someone who didn’t really think WILL-O’ had weak vocals in the first place. Each of the members brings their own style to the mix and they can all definitely sing, that’s for sure. There was a bit of autotune going on at times that I really don’t think was needed but it wasn’t a constant thing so it’s pretty easy for me to overlook it and I’m certainly not going to dock points from an awesome song like this just for a few seconds of something I wasn’t that keen on. A super fun, really catchy song that is sure to hook a lot of people if it’s their first time being exposed to WILL-O’ and their music. Definitely make time to check this one out.
When the first few bars of “Light of Hope” began playing my ears pricked up at the guitar riff that was being played. It was pretty raw and suggested good thing were on the way. Well, this song didn’t quite end up going as they almost tricked me into expecting in the opening few seconds. Very quickly the instrumental gets muted and the song takes on a more emotionally charged tone. The term “Rock Ballad” springs to mind and I think it’s a reasonably accurate description of what we get here. The instrumental makes use of a wide range of instruments, from string to piano and other genre appropriate things. It gives the song a somewhat symphonic feel and definitely nails the sort of mood that you can tell they were going for. The vocal work continues to impress on this song as well, and you can really hear the members of WILL-O’ pour a lot of emotion into the words that they’re singing. I’m not the biggest fan of the chorus, there’s just something about the delivery that when compared to the rest of the track doesn’t sound as smooth which I guess is because they were probably trying to go for a change of tone, so it makes sense. Not typically the type of song I go for, as most of you know but I’m not going to sit here and tell you it’s a bad song. It’s quite good actually and if you’re into this style I’m sure you’ll find great enjoyment from it.
“Re:mitBreak” lifts the energy once more, though not before reversing the bait and switch of the last song. Things open pretty sparkly and very…vanilla Idol Pop before bringing in synthesizers and pretty heavily distorted guitars to give the song a bit of a darker mood. I say a bit because it does retain some elements of that opening sequence, perhaps most notably the vocals which for whatever reason I find to be rather high pitched in a lot of places on this song. I’m guessing it’s a different member on lead vocals but I’m honest enough to admit that I don’t know enough about WILL-O’ to say for sure. It’s just different to what we’ve been hearing up until now so I feel the need to mention it. Outside of that though, I feel like this song falls somewhere in the middle of the previous two tracks in that while it definitely has a lot of energy and a few sharp edges it does still have that softer, more melodic quality that’s trying its hardest to balance everything out. I also just want to take a second to point out that the chorus on this song is really good and quite deceptive in how catchy it actually is, especially on the first couple of plays. I definitely found the melody stuck in my head after a while. A couple of small quibbles from me here but another great song otherwise.
I was a little confused to see “Renjou Shinjou Clumsy” on the tracklist for this single as I was pretty sure that WILL-O’ had already released that song digitally a couple of months prior. While that is technically true, they did release “Renshin Clumsy” as an April Fool’s joke with a very sparkly, cutesy Pop aesthetic the version featured here is quite different. This song isn’t a joke folks, no instead the instrumental takes on a pretty cool Rock vibe with some rather catchy guitar riffs to make up for the loss of the sparkles and bubblegum. The drumbeat plays a major part in the song, providing a lot of the drive which might seem like an obvious thing to say but it’s focused on pretty heavily. So it should be too as it’s a great beat and gives an energetic bounce to things and I imagine it must be all that much better in a live setting too. The vocals also got completely overhauled for this version of the song, which I’m pretty happy about because I wasn’t totally in love with how flat and airy they were on the joke version of this track. No such problems here however, with WILL-O’ turning in yet another criminally underrated performance. Catchy stuff lyrically too, though I think the chorus might be the weakest part of the song in that department. This is definitely my favorite track of the ones I’ve written about so far, so go out of your way to listen to it if you value my opinion for some reason.
Things get all warm and fuzzy on the next track “un chain”. Well, the instrumental certainly does at least with its high levels of distortion on the guitars that still somehow manages to remain understated. That probably makes no sense but if you listen to the song you’ll hopefully get what I mean. In any case, I love me some fuzzed out guitar so things were already off to a pretty good start on this song. The vocals don’t really play along with all of this however, instead going for a very emotional, somewhat dramatic tone that almost seems at odds with the instrumental as the song is getting going. I wouldn’t say that they eventually meet in the middle exactly but a balance does get struck around the time the first chorus comes in. I’m a fan of the vocals either way, there’s a bit of attitude during the verses and then we get a really strong chorus so very little to complain about there. Once again the drums play a pretty prominent role in the song, though there are a few moments where I do wish they’d have toned it down just a little bit. Personal preference of course, but I think that poor abused hi-hat could have been given a bit of a rest during the chorus for example. The only thing that’s missing for me would be one slightly cleaner guitar riff but that’s just a personal thing. The song is fantastic and I’m starting to sound like a broken record.
Closing things out is “POP’N” which I believe is a bonus track as it doesn’t feature on any of this single’s multiple editions. I would have been perfectly content if we’d just called it quits after the last track but if you insist I’m not going to complain. I have to admit, I knew that I was going to love this song the second its insanely catchy synthesizer melody started playing. It’s a little goofy granted but man does it just sound so fun. I wasn’t expecting the song to take on such a Punk lean as it did though but if this is the first recorded instance of an Idol group performing a Synth Punk song then everyone else has a tough act to follow. If I have a face splitting grin and want to bounce around while listening to a song that’s when I know someone has done something right and that’s the case here for sure. Now, would I have personally preferred if the vocals weren’t so high pitched? Yeah, I probably would have but I don’t think it’s so out of place with everything else going on that it hurts the song in any real way. All of the hooks and the incredibly simple but highly effective chorus do a pretty darn decent job of distracting me from it as well so don’t read too much into that minor criticism. This song is ridiculously good and what an incredible way to close out this excellent selection of songs WILL-O’ have given us with this single.
I don’t really like throwing around buzzwords but the term “sleeper hit” keeps flashing up in my mind and I think that’s a pretty good way of describing this single. Those who choose to seek it out will be rewarded with a selection of some of the best Idol songs that are likely to come out this year and those who skip over it will be missing out on a single that should be ranking highly on many a “Best of 2019” list. That’s high praise coming from me but this single deserves it.
So uhh…yeah. You got any more of that WILL-O’? I’m really glad I’m pushing myself to check out music from a wider variety of groups this year. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword though as it leads to me discovering gems like this single but then leaves me wanting to hear more. I don’t know how long I’m going to have to wait for WILL-O’s next CD to come out but to say it’s something I’m excited for and highly anticipating would be an understatement.