My thoughts on “Yubikiri ~Kono Saki mo Issho ni Ayunde Ikou ne~”, a compilation album from HEROINES.
Release Date: January 15th 2020
2. Kaimei Wanderer
3. Dark Paradise
4. Jumping Jumping! Soiya Soiya!
6. Hatsukoi Revival
7. Dokkoi Romantic
8. Asu ari to omou kokoro no adazakura
10. Warera! Ponkotsu Konpo!
11. Sunny! Adventure!
We’re only a couple of months into the year at this point…actually that’s kinda crazy now that I type it out but anyway I’m already going to be doing something on the site for the first time. Believe it or not, I’ve never reviewed a compilation album before in all of my years of doing this stuff. Though to be fair it’s not like compilations are the most common thing in the world, especially when it comes to Idol music. That said, this should hopefully be a pretty interesting review.
HEROINES is the collective name for several groups under the Rockfield Corporation. A few of you are probably already familiar with Higeki no Heroine Syndrome after their “Silent Cry / REVENGER” single (review here) from last year but the agency also produces several other groups. Those groups being MOBIUS, Mouai Gravity, nue and Ponkotsu Konpo, some of which maybe one or two of you will have heard of but for the most part this release is going to be the first time many people are going to be hearing from all of those groups. It’s actually a pretty cool idea to market your less well known or up and coming properties honestly.
“Yubikiri ~Kono Saki mo Issho ni Ayunde Ikou ne~” like previously mentioned is a compilation album and from what I can tell each of the groups featured got a couple of songs each out of the album’s 11 tracks. It’s basically an album of singles if you want to look at it that way, so a pretty good sampler for the casual listener to see if anything catches their ear. I’m pretty familiar with Herosyn but haven’t really listened to any of the other groups that much so I’m looking forward to checking them all out here. No idea how I’m going to give this thing a rating but good thing those don’t matter anyway, right?
The album’s opening and…I guess title track “Yubikiri” is a collaborative effort from all of the groups that are participating on the release. A pretty nice touch in my opinion and it gives a bit more reason for this collection of songs to exist in the first place. What an opening instrumental this song blesses us with by the way folks. Beautiful piano melodies paired with some equally melodic guitar riffs to create this vague gothic vibe that isn’t so overbearing as to be the main focus but just enough to let you know it’s going on. It does kinda go away once we get to the first verse though, replaced with something a bit muddier and a lot less flashy. It certainly makes the vocal melodies pop that’s for sure but it’s a little disappointing given what we started out with. There’s quite a bit going on vocally with so many different voices taking their turn to deliver a line or two but it’s a pretty nice performance overall with some great melodic moments throughout. The chorus is a bit weak compared to much of the rest of the track I suppose but it would probably be hard to do much more than they did given how many voices they were trying to harmonize at the same time. That said, this is a pretty cool song with a bunch of interesting guitar parts along with great vocal melodies and more than enough hooks to be getting by on. What’s not to like about a song like this?
Perhaps predictably Herosyn receive top billing when it comes to the order in which the individual groups who comprise HEROINES are presented on this album. It makes I suppose, considering they’re the flagship group and all. Their first offering here is “Kaimei Wanderer” and despite the group’s dark visuals this song is actually fairy bright and dare I say hopeful sounding. It features a very melodic, guitar driven instrumental with a mild synthesizer element to create a bit of complimentary ambience. It’s quite a mellow affair during the verses and at times I was sort of left wanting for a bit more of a kick than the song was willing to provide. The vocals were really good though, nice melodies and good emotion being conveyed as they delivered what is essentially a Ballad at the end of the day. Things do get a bit more emotionally charged during the choruses with the Herosyn members really putting it all out there vocally. It’s a bit of a shame that the instrumental becomes quite as washed out as it does here though as it does somewhat weaken the overall idea that they’re going for. I did like the inclusion of a bit of piano though so it’s not all bad. Pretty enjoyable as far as this style of song goes and Herosyn put in a great performance that they probably won’t get the credit that they deserve for as there’s this weird misconception that they’re all looks and no singing ability or something.
For Herosyn’s second contribution to this release we have “Dark Paradise” which if you’re just reading it out you’re probably thinking that the song might sound a certain kind of way. Well, if you were expecting something a bit more gothic than the last song then that’s definitely the tone on which they choose to open this track. We’re treated to a suitably on theme piano piece before the song opens up further into a Synth Rock style with a fairly dark tone that’s created quite effectively by way of some muted drumbeats, synthesizer fuzz and some pretty cool guitar riffs. The vocals are what you’d expect for the style, offering a fairly ominous tone to their delivery but not leaning too hard into it so that the lyrics retain at least some sort of Pop dynamic. Again the chorus just feels a bit weaker than the rest of the track for some reason. I think it’s mainly the pitch and tempo in which it’s sung, it’s a bit too light and airy in my opinion, because the lyrics are actually quite catchy otherwise. The instrumental doesn’t exactly help either as it loses all of the cool stuff we’ve been hearing during the verses. I really do like what they’re going for here but the execution in places is just not quite where I would prefer it to be. This isn’t the first time I’ve been critical of Herosyn for having weak choruses though so perhaps I shouldn’t be that surprised that I’m bringing it up here again.
Next up to bat are MOBIUS, a group I’ve heard of but never listened to, with the rather energetically titled “Jumping Jumping! Soiya Soiya!”. The song’s opening Synth Rock instrumental certainly lives up to the title too, providing a very lively and fun first impression of the group to both myself and probably many others. It’s actually pretty cool how they’ve managed to blend many of the elements of genki, Denpa Pop music with some heavier, gritty Rock instrumentation. The vocals also do a good job of switching it up between the song’s two opposing styles, offering the listener a more serious tone of delivery during the song’s verses and then flipping completely to transform into a bright and energetic style for the choruses. In both instances the lyrics contain some pretty strong hooks and the quality of the vocal performance from everyone involved is pretty high. If I had to be critical of one aspect of the track it would be the instrumental during the chorus I suppose. The drums really wash a lot of it out and the style of synthesizer employed isn’t doing much to help matters either. The vocals and their hooks are clearly meant to be the focus and they’re great but yeah, considering the instrumentation in the verses it kinda felt like they took it a bit too easy in the choruses. Probably a bit harsh on my part as this is a super fun song otherwise.
For their second offering, MOBIUS present us with “Arise” which opens on a really dim and brooding sort of note with muted drums and some piano being given the task of getting the track up and running. They’re not around for long though as a very quick transition occurs and the song explodes into life with a super bright and energetic synthesizer being accompanied by an uptempo drumbeat now becoming the main focus. Talk about a mood swing. Things mellow out a bit again when the first verse eventually comes in, with the vocals being backed by a rather nice, piano tinged Rock composition. Great clean singing from the MOBIUS girls here too, very melodic stuff and without the wackiness you’d perhaps expect. Things then build up and up to the chorus which gets rather loud and emotional. The vocal work is great once again, really leaning into that dramatic, emotional style of delivery and these girls sure can sing it. The instrumental gets a bit busy here for my liking personally but it does inject the song with a good bit more energy and makes for a more high tension atmosphere so I don’t hate the idea but the execution isn’t quite how I would have done it. Still though, full credit to the producers for wrapping what is essentially a Ballad up into a super compelling composition that definitely doesn’t play things entirely by the book. I can always find time to appreciate something like that.
From a group that I was at least vaguely familiar with in MOBIUS to a group that I had never heard of before preparing for this review. Mouai Gravity’s first contribution to this release “Hatsukoi Revival” didn’t exactly get off to the flashiest of starts with a fairly unremarkable Rock instrumental accompanying the opening few vocal lines. Then suddenly the song transforms before our very ears into this Digital Hardcore-esque sound, though an admittedly very light version of it. The synthesizers are very much the main focus and they provide some pretty enjoyable melodies along with an appropriate amount of energy. The guitars and drums are pretty minor players by comparison, which kinda makes sense given the pretty heavily Pop slanted vocal style but they could have probably done a little bit more with them. Speaking of the vocals, it’s another pretty clean and melodic performance which feels like it’s a requirement for all groups on this agency at this point. There’s nothing particularly bad about the lyrics or how they’re structured at any point but I wouldn’t say they’ve done anything to really stand out from the crowd here either. The most obvious example of this being in the chorus which just sort of feels like it’s there with not a ton to differentiate it from everything else. “Hatsukoi Revival” is a decent enough song but there’s plenty of other groups doing similar stuff out there.
By comparison, “Dokkoi Romantic” has a lot more going for it…in my opinion at least. There’s definitely an overriding anime vibe to the song which is pretty apparent right from the outset where the instrumental takes on that sort of anime Pop tone I suppose you’d call it? It’s hard to put into words but if you hear it you’ll get what I mean hopefully. Bright, warm vocals with just little bit of over-exaggeration on the delivery accompanied by a bouncy, carefree synthesizer melody and beat make for a pretty fun listen providing you’re in the mood for it. We get a bit more guitar added into the mix along with some horns as the song gets going a bit more. They do an effective job of fleshing out the melody and adding an extra dimension to the song’s rhythm so no complaints from me there. I quite like the structure of the lyrics during the verses too, it’s pretty simple stuff but simple doesn’t mean it can’t also be very effective. Good melodies and some catchy hooks don’t hurt either and that’s what you’re getting out of the chorus on this song so more thumbs up from me for that. Definitely more…”traditional” I suppose in terms of the Idol Pop sound than most of the stuff I review here but it’s hard not to be won over the by the infectious energy that this song is giving off by the bucket full. Not bad for a group I’d never heard of before sitting down to write this review.
We return to slightly more familiar territory for me next, with nue getting their turn to shine on this album. I’m not going to pretend I follow them closely or anything but I’ve at least heard of the group and seen an MV for theirs in the past. “Asu ari to omou kokoro no adazakura” definitely has that…traditional vibe to it, with the opening instrumental making use of shamisen and some fresh feeling synthesizer ambience to impress that feeling. Then things explode into a pretty energetic, EDM arrangement which was sort of where I expected things might be going but wasn’t sure. It holds onto that more “traditional” element too, which makes sense as these styles have been paired well together in the past. When the first verse hits it brings with it a fairly heavy Rock component too which is cool and I really do like the power that’s behind the more serious in tone vocals here too. The lyrics have some nice hooks which is always good and it’s hard not to be impressed by how they’ve tied this all together with the guitars and drums. The chorus is perhaps a little bit too monotone and lacking in intensity by comparison, with the gang vocals in particular sounding rather disinterested judging by their tone. It’s not ruining the song for me by an stretch but yeah, just seems like an odd stylistic choice from where I’m sitting. Still, this is one of the more interesting tracks from this album so far in my opinion.
We keep that traditional meets modern theme going with nue’s second contribution to this release “Tōryanse”. It’s a pretty weird opening instrumental I have to say, mainly because I’m not used to hearing whatever the heck that is that they’ve tried to replace some of the electric guitars with. It continues into the verses too, though less prominent, and kinda threw my ears off a bit. I feel like if you’re going in that direction you have to really lean into it and they held back here. Otherwise though, I like the groove being given off by the dense but not overbearing drumbeat and the regular guitar riffs are giving the song a nice amount of crunch too. The vocals have a healthy amount of intensity to them which plays well with the emotion coming off of the instrumental and the way the lyrics flow makes for a pretty catchy listen. This song easily has one of the stronger choruses out of everything I’ve heard so far, which isn’t saying a ton admittedly but I call it like I hear it. Another highlight of the track is its mid-song breakdown which blends the stompy Rock instrumental with more shamisen for a pretty cool moment. I started out on shaky ground with this one but as it got going and certainly by the end it managed to win me over. Hmm, nue are responsible for two of my personal highlights from this release so far…how about that.
Last but not least are Ponkotsu Konpo, who are the newest group to debut from this particular agency I believe. They also fall into the category of me being familiar with but never having listened to them before, just in case anyone was curious. Well, “Warera! Ponkotsu Konpo!” makes a pretty good first impression with its opening instrumental featuring a blend of Chiptune and Pop Punk which creates a pretty bright mood and brings a nice energy to the party. Things do dull down a bit when the vocals come in, with the song taking on more of an Electronic Rock vibe at this point and well, considering the fairly natural tone of the vocals it probably wasn’t the worst call from a thematic standpoint. There’s still a nice intensity to everything and the lyrics are pretty catchy too so a bit of a bait and switch but I’ll forgive it. Once again the expected uptick in tempo and drive when the chorus comes along fails to materialize so I guess this must just be a thing or something at this point. It’s all pretty catchy stuff too, it just needs a bit more of a kick to it in my opinion. Outside of that though it’s another pretty enjoyable song on the whole with some really cool guitar work interspersed so still plenty of positives. I just wish we could get over the line and have it all be positives one time.
Closing out the release is the very bright and energetically titled “Sunny! Adventure!”. That’s the tone that the song opts to open with as well, with yet another very upbeat and energetic synthesizer melody being complimented rather nicely by a Rock instrumental that adds this interesting fuzzy texture to the composition. I’m not sure how to process it what with all of the bright melodies, sparkles, beeps and what have you that are also going on around it. The vocals in the verses are very melodic, which helps cut through everything going on in the instrumental quite effectively. Fairly catchy lyrics too on the whole with a nicely structured flow to how everything is being delivered. It’s not going to blow your mind but hey, we’re making Pop music out here folks. When the chorus hits we do actually get more tempo and energy which is awesome, slightly less awesome is how the vocals started to get just ever so slightly washed out due to the higher pitches they were reaching to achieve that change in energy and tone. More of a nitpick from me than anything though. Yeah, this was a pretty fun note to end things off on I think. Like I mentioned earlier we’re not exactly reinventing the wheel here but for a still very new group this is a pretty solid foundation to start building on.
I’m not really sure how to go about summing this album up honestly. There’s quite a few interesting songs from several of the groups featured and I don’t feel like any of the tracks were terrible or anything like that. A lot of the choruses were pretty weak though which seems to be an issue/intentional because it’s not confined to one group. It very much felt like snatching defeat from the jaws of victory a few times which is a shame really.
I’d say that Herosyn and nue win the day for me personally on this release. The other groups definitely had their moments but I just jived more with those two groups. Regardless though, if you’re looking for new groups to get into then this release is a pretty cool and affordable way of doing that. Like I said at the start of the review, it’s pretty much 5 singles rolled into one release and there’s good variety on offer here too. Definitely a couple of groups from this bunch to be keeping your eye on in 2020, but don’t just take my word for it.