My thoughts on “Omoi, haru ni tsurete”, the first album from BOY MEETS HARU.
Release Date: February 14th 2020
2. BOY MEETS HARU
3. Hello world
4. Yumemi Gachi Girl
5. gentle lie
7. Sayonara Refrain
8. Boku no inai ashita
9. Kimi no inai kinō
10. Individual (zoku)
11. Haikei, ano hi no shōjo
12. Satsuki hare to yukimizuki -Repeat girl-
I know I go on and on about this whole checking out releases from groups I wouldn’t normally listen to thing, but it feels like lately it’s getting a bit out of hand. I almost feel bad for anyone coming to the site looking for my thoughts on the latest big name release only to instead be given an unintended crash course in all manner of weird, wonderful and lesser known groups. I can’t help it though, if the big dogs want to rest on their laurels for a bit then there’s plenty of up and comers waiting to fill the gaps.
BOY MEETS HARU are a group that I’ve heard of in passing before, and even a bit more lately which is perhaps something to do with the subject of today’s review. That said, like most groups I’ve featured lately I never really paid them too close attention until now. They’re a 6 member group, which surprised me as I thought they were a solo or duo for a while, who have been active for about 9 months at this point. They bill themselves as a “Youth X Suspense” Idol group and that’s about all I was able to glean from some cursory research.
“Omoi, haru ni tsurete” is the group’s first album, and it’s available everywhere digitally so they’re not wasting any time getting it out into the world. It appears to feature a couple of tracks from some of the group’s prior digital singles but for the most part it looks to be mostly new material on offer here. I’ve never actually actually listened to any of BOY MEETS HARU’s music before so I’m very much going into this review blind. I imagine a lot of you will be too though so perhaps me not knowing entirely what to expect will add an interesting dimension to this article. There’s only one way to find out I suppose, let’s get into things.
The album’s lead track “Introduction” is perhaps unsurprisingly given the title, a short instrumental track. Never let it be said that I can’t spot a trend folks. Anyway, things open up with a rather pleasant orchestral style instrumental with lots of strings and things going on. Kicking things off on a classy note, I like that. Well, that’s how things were going at least until about 20 seconds in when some wubbing synthesizer beats are introduced. It sounds like two totally opposing styles but honestly it works so well for some reason. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come from the rest of the album as I’m definitely intrigued and wouldn’t mind hearing more in this style.
The album’s first proper track is also sharing a title with the name of the group. “BOY MEETS HARU” does indeed continue the orchestral theme, with a very beautiful opening instrumental that’s pretty heavy on the string section. It is quickly joined by a sparkling synthesizer melody and the song is really off to the races. I really like the bright and energetic mood being painted here. Things do calm down a bit for the first verse, with the synths making way for some softer piano melodies, but the beat remains a very present feature of the track which I quite like here actually. Not really having had much of an idea what to expect from this group vocally I must say that I was impressed both by the power as well as the tone of the vocal delivery from all of the members. Very rich and impactful stuff with some great melodies and strong lyrical hooks also included. Like with most good songs, the chorus simply takes several of these elements and just amplifies them a bit. In this case that translates to some more rapid fire delivery of the vocal lines as well as a noticeably increased tempo for the instrumental. There was very little, if anything, that I didn’t enjoy about this song which isn’t something I say too regularly. I loved the energy and the, in the end, very natural fusion of orchestral and Synth Rock.
“Hello world” opts to forego the classier orchestral sound in favor of some straight up scuzzy synthesizers as its opening gambit. Quite a bit of distortion being layered onto this song’s instrumental, so much so that it’s still very in your face even after the introduction of a pounding drumbeat and a very melodic sounding guitar riff. It does all work together rather well though, creating a very intense and crowded atmosphere while it does so. After a drop, much of this opening style melts away, replaced with low drumbeats and distorted guitar riffs that pair together to give the song a very groovy sort of vibe. The vocals do a good job of matching up to this edgier style, being delivered with the sort of attitude that you would expect from a song like this. Once again the lyrics are structured in such a way as to be both catchy and impactful and they make it work again here too. Synthesizers are reintroduced as the song races its way towards its chorus, building itself up as it goes. The instrumental is a bit chaotic once the chorus does come, which made sense and sounds fine but I wouldn’t have minded hearing things a tiny bit more clearly. The vocal performance more than makes up for it though, free flowing and once again boasting some rather catchy hooks much like the rest of the song. Hard not to be impressed once again, both with the infectiousness of the instrumental along with more quality vocal performances from all of the members of BOY MEETS HARU.
The piano melody that rings out at the beginning of the album’s fourth track “Yumemi Gachi Girl” is a welcome soothing of the ears after the more frantic nature of the song that just preceded it. Fairly quickly a light drumbeat and even lighter, shimmering synthesizer replace the piano as the instrumental’s key features, creating a pretty ambient soundscape upon which the vocals are able to provide us with another quite excellent performance. Definitely a hopeful, uplifting sort of song and that point is made all the more obvious by the repeating vocal line, in English, telling us to “Live every day as if it is your last day”. Can’t say you’ll find me disagreeing with that sentiment any time soon. You also won’t find me having many bad things to say about the light Synth Rock style that the song takes on as things progress along. I think it was a great call as it gives the song just a little bit of bite which helps prevent things from getting too shapeless and washed out if all we had were mild synths and beats to work with. I also appreciate that they didn’t go too heavy on the vocal effects either, though there is a mild element of additional warmth being added, as it would have detracted from what is once again a fantastic performance with some of the best melodies and hooks we’re likely to hear all year. Yeah, I like this track quite a bit if you couldn’t tell.
I’m not entirely sure what that sound is supposed to be at the beginning of “gentle lie”, to me it sort of sounded like boots marching on a gravel road. I suppose it doesn’t matter too much as it is rather quickly shoved out of the way by a mildly static infused synthesizer that gives off the idea of a computer running some complex calculations or something to that effect. No matter what it reminds you of, it’s pretty catchy and sure to get its hooks into you fairly quickly. Very melancholic sounding vocals join the fray after not too long, almost languidly drifting along as the instrumental carries much of the song’s energy during the opening verses. Things do pick up a bit once we hit the chorus, though the vocals do get the grainy filter treatment here a bit which isn’t something I’m personally that big a fan of, but it does kinda fit with the overall style of the track honestly. Some good hooks certainly helped placate me so I can let that slide just once. Things generally pick up quite a bit in terms of energy during the back third or so of the track, with us ending up with a combination of all of the best bits from the song’s initial verses and chorus. I ended up quite liking the darker, more gloomy mood being given off by the song and despite a somewhat slow start I think they tied everything together and it all ended up coming good in the end. Certainly not my favorite track thus far though.
Six tracks into the album and it’s time for an intermission in the form of “Individual”. It’s a pretty short track at slightly over 80 seconds in length but they did end up showing off some pretty interesting stuff in such a short time. The track is an instrumental, perhaps unsurprisingly and is another showcase of how to blend classical with the contemporary. Starting off in a Maison book girl-esque style before the abrupt introduction of some pretty hard synth beats making it sound like both elements are fighting for control for a bit. Eventually we end up with a really pleasing combination of the two before the track fades out and it’s back to your regularly scheduled programming. A fun little snippet that I wouldn’t mind hearing turn into a more fully formed idea somewhere down the line.
We get right back to some Piano Rock after that short interlude, with “Sayonara Refrain” wasting little time establishing an enjoyable light atmosphere that also has just the slightest bit of a crunch to it by way of the guitars. The drumbeat isn’t the most inspiring of things that you’re ever likely to hear but it’s interesting enough and does what’s required of it as far as providing the bulk of the song’s tempo. They keep the vocals fairly light too during the song’s opening verses, with them being delivered in something akin to a Ballad style but with a bit more urgency to match what’s going on in the instrumental. Great tone from all of the members once again as they deliver their lines and while perhaps not quite as catchy lyrically as some of the album’s previous songs this one has more than enough to be getting by on still. That’s kind of how I feel about the chorus too actually, it’s perfectly serviceable but it’s not really anything to be writing home about. The instrumental feels a bit washed out and the vocals lose a lot of their great tone in favor of some fairly generic sounding melodies. I’m probably being way harsher than I need to be on this track as it is genuinely quite good. It’s just there’s been a lot of really strong competition so far on this release so it’s going to make otherwise good tracks look not quite as good by comparison. What a problem to have, right?
The Orchestral blended with Electronica style from earlier in the album makes a return on its eighth track “Boku no inai ashita”. Quite the fantastical feel to the song’s opening instrumental with all manner of sparkles and shimmers accompanying some very serene sounding strings/synths. The song transitions smoothly into its first verse where the instrumental plays more towards its Electronica side, creating the impression of “water” with its bubbling melodies which act as an accompaniment to a light and fairly catchy beat. I really love the vocals here because sure, it’s definitely more of a Ballad style but this time they hold onto more of the girls’ tone when it comes to the style in which the song is sung. The lyrics are also much more catchy than on the previous track and I feel like everything just has a more enjoyable flow to it generally speaking. The chorus is a bit of a mixed bag however, because while I do really like the way they upped the intensity during parts of it, I also feel like there were a few times where they took the foot off the gas a little too much. The lyrics also aren’t quite as interesting as in the verses for me but they’re still enjoyable to listen to, don’t get me wrong. An enjoyable take on the Ballad style for sure, there’s just a couple little things I would have liked to have seen done differently.
“Kimi no inai kinō” opens with a pretty nice Indie Rock vibe, with some mildly fuzzed guitar being pretty much the only instrumentation of note as the song starts off. The fairly simple riff they’ve gone with is quickly joined by some equally warm in tone vocals and we’ve got a nice, inviting atmosphere being created here. This continues on for a while, with a light beat joining the party along the way and eventually a mild synthesizer melody as well as the song begins to build itself up a bit. Throughout, the vocals remain very warm and rich, with some mild but by no means any less effective hooks sprinkled in to keep the listeners attention. The first chorus eventually hits and brings with it both an uptick in tempo as well as some sparkly synthesizers which might not be the most original thing in the world but they do a good job of changing up the song’s energy. As do the vocals, which gain a bit more volume and power behind their delivery but I would have also maybe liked to have heard a bit more energy from them too. That said, it’s still a pretty strong chorus and a very pleasant one to listen to so maybe I’m asking for something that would have ruined the vibe of what is a song that I definitely got a lot of enjoyment out of listening to.
Next it’s time for another interlude, with “Individual (zoku)” marking our next break in the action. As the title states, it’s supposed to be a continuation of the track titled “Individual” that we heard previously but I don’t know if I’d go that far. This snippet features some fairly high tempo, bubbling synthesizer melodies that sort of give off this 80s Synthwave vibe which I thought was kinda cool. Then for the last 15 seconds or so we’re back to the more typical Electronica style that has featured on much of the album so far. Not really sure we needed another interlude but this was pretty cool for all that it is.
“Haikei, ano hi no shōjo” is technically the last proper track on the album but we’ll get to why that is in a bit. The song once again gets going with a pretty fun Indie Rock instrumental that accented just ever so slightly by some synthesizer sparkles and sounds of that nature. Really great energy on show here and a nice change from the expected emotionally charged Ballad that a lot of groups tend to end their albums with. Things calm down a bit once we get into the first verse, with some deep ambient tones taking over with a guitar riff adding a few moments of flair every so often while the vocals do their thing. It’s not the energetic performance you’d maybe expect given how the song started off, but it’s BOY MEETS HARU once again showing off their great vocal tones as they deliver a somewhat melancholic performance. All of that gets flipped on its head for the chorus however, and the sort of song that the opening hinted at eventually becomes a reality. Some really nice energy from both the instrumental and vocals and a good amount of hooks involved as well, so pretty much everything you’d be looking for in a chorus. The song retains a bit of that energy for the rest of its duration as well which I thought was cool as it was kinda missing that little extra something. Add in a few cool guitar riffs along the way and solo vocal part or two and you’ve got yourself a pretty strong closer for the album here.
Well, I say closer but I suppose technically “Satsuki hare to yukimizuki -Repeat girl-” is the last track. It’s a pretty cute little thing they’ve done where it sounds like they’ve rewound the album back to the beginning. Nothing to really comment on too much from a musical standpoint but it’s a fun little minute or so to end things off on. Certainly not something you have to go out of your way to listen to and it would probably get a few odd looks if it came up in a playlist, but kinda neat I suppose if you’re into little touches like that.
I ended up enjoying “Omoi, haru ni tsurete” as an album quite a lot more than I thought I would when I initially started to work on this review. There’s a lot of really strong tracks here and the members of BOY MEETS HARU all have really great singing voices. I do feel that this going to be one of those releases that not enough people are going to pay attention to and that’s unfortunate because I feel like there’s plenty here to be enjoyed, especially if you’re into Electronica as a genre.
I’m definitely adding BOY MEETS HARU to my list of groups to pay attention to going forward. I started out not knowing much of anything about them and now I really want to hear what they do next, and I believe they have a new song or two in the works already so hopefully I won’t have too long to wait. 2020 really is shaping up to be another great year for me discovering new groups with some really great music and hey, that’s pretty much what this is all about right?