My thoughts on “impure” the first album from TOKYO Tefutefu.
Release Date: April 28th 2021
1. innocence soar (impure Ver.)
2. effect pain spiral
3. cry more again
5. rainy milk
6. phantom pain
7. for something
9. double (impure Ver.)
Let’s face it, first impressions are pretty important in many facets of life. While it’s not impossible to come back from making a bad one, it is a bit of an uphill battle depending on just how bad it was. I like to think that I’m pretty evenhanded when it comes to my writings here on this site and just in general too, but there are some things that even for me I kinda find myself wondering if it’s possible to win me over…especially after several misses in a row.
TOKYO Tefutefu find themselves in this position with me currently. They’re one of codomomental’s newer projects and have put out a handful of digital singles thus far. While I thought “double” was decent by codomomental standards, “innocence soar” was pretty rough and I know it wasn’t just me saying that. As such, I didn’t even really want to review the group’s first album “impure” all that much but a couple of people whose opinions I trust tell me that there are actually more good songs here so I guess we’ll find out whether I agree or not today.
Like I mentioned, this is TOKYO Tefutefu’s debut album and as you can see it consists of 9 tracks. Not a huge number but a decent enough amount to get a good feel of things if you haven’t checked the group out previously. Obviously one of the tracks is not really going to be my thing right off the bat but there’s one that I kinda like and 7 more for them to try and turn my opinion around. Whether they are able to or not is probably the biggest question that I have coming into this review so let’s stop wasting time and find out. Either way I’m sure this is going to be an entertaining read for you guys so buckle up.
Well, we’re starting things off with “innocence soar” which is one of the digital singles that TOKYO Tefutefu released ahead of dropping this album. It’s also one of the songs that I don’t particularly like all that much so not the best start here as far as I’m concerned. They’ve altered a few things to account for a line-up change since the original came out, but you can still read my initial thoughts here if you’d really like to. To cut a long story short, I really do like the tinkly Piano Rock instrumental that they’ve got going on here and while certainly nothing innovative by any stretch, it’s an appealing style that should go over rather well with a lot of people. Equally the vocal performance in the verses is good too, sticking to a lot of the base codomomental structuring and vocoded notes. Where it all falls down is the choruses though, with a very high pitched vocal delivery pulling me right out of the song and making it hard to dive back in when all was said and done. It’s pretty close to being a really solid debut but whoever signed off on those choruses really let the side down here in my opinion.
The opening synthesizer salvo of the album’s second track “effect pain spiral” really has all of the hallmarks of a Digital Hardcore track, which isn’t something I would say we’ve heard much if at all from a codomomental group before. We don’t really get to hear it here either, though the instrumental does keep the tension nice and high by adding some deep, brooding basslines into the equation as it starts to get a bit more fleshed out. More piano and some pretty punchy drumbeats round things out and yeah, we end up with a slightly softer take on what might usually be a very abrasive, dominating style of music. I imagine a lot of this is in service to the vocals which follow all of the expected cues from this genre, being that they’re very bright, melodic and most importantly of all vocoded, but without a lot of the heavier moments that we’ve heard other groups pull off oh so well previously. I didn’t expect brutal harsh vocals from this group in the first place, though some sort of defined change in texture might have gone a decent ways to providing an extra dimension to the track here. As it stands, it’s an enjoyable lighter take on a genre that a lot of people enjoy and it could actually be a pretty decent introduction if you’re someone who wants to like this sort of thing but gets put off by all of the screaming that’s usually associated with it.
“cry more again” doesn’t really give you much time to settle in as it comes right into its own the second you hit play. Can’t say I’m super keen on that wailing style vocal they’ve got going on early here, and the instrumental is pretty blown out too, but I kinda get the sort of gothic vibe that they’re playing with I guess? Distorted guitar and piano get blended together as the backbone of the track and it’s pretty interesting in a contrasting way and sonically who doesn’t love a bit of crunch that’s smoothed out with something a bit more melodic? That’s kind of why most of us are into this style of Idol music in the first place I would imagine. We run nearly the full gamut of codomomental vocal styles on this one too, sans screams of course, with natural melodies, vocoded harmonies, light rapping and all of the agency’s other popular styles mostly making an appearance here. Some work better than others in my opinion but nothing feels incredibly out of place assuming you’re not coming into this expecting some very pure take on the Gothic Hard Rock style. Pretty colorful, full of personality and with a pretty awesome instrumental interlude towards the end there as well. Probably my favorite Tefutefu track so far I think but we’re only 3 tracks into this album so let’s not go jumping the gun here okay?
I got a bit excited by the Pop Punk overtones of “merry-go-round”‘s opening guitar focused instrumental, and then was brought crashing back down to earth when the vocals came in sounding very much like a low tension Ballad. The instrumental shifts to account for this too of course, transforming into a low tempo, very fuzzy style that has a little bit of a Shoegaze vibe to it but without a lot of the more dynamic elements of the genre. It’s not an unpleasant listening experience by any means but it is a bit of a letdown when you consider what might have been with how the track started out. They do try to bring some elements of this back in for choruses but don’t quite fully commit to it unfortunately. It’s still a lot more energetic than what’s going on in most of the verses but yeah, it felt like they were missing a step or two but maybe that’s just me trying to make this song into something that it’s not and was never going to be. On a positive note, we do get some nice clean vocals here so not too much in the way of the usual codomomental smoke and mirrors which makes for a nice change of pace I suppose if that’s something you’ve been looking for. Not bad, I even like it a bit more than I’m letting on I think but yeah it could have been so much more in my mind is what I suppose I’m trying to say here.
“rainy milk” is a pretty odd song title but for some reason it created this idea of a pastel, soft Synth Pop song in my mind and I’m not totally sure why. It’s a popular ascetic these days though so it wouldn’t be too surprising to hear here. I actually ended up being kinda close too, though this track does lean more heavily on guitar, but that soft Synth Pop vibe is also a very large part of the instrumental which makes for a pretty nice little atmospheric arrangement when all is said and done. Very dreamy vocals with a strong layer of vocoding add to this picture they’re painting very effectively, seamlessly merging with the synthesizers to really feel like they’ve been woven into the core of the track instead of sitting on top over everything else happening around them. I like that style of production personally but I can definitely listen to arguments for wanting things to maybe be a little bit more defined in places, personal preference and all that. Apart from that we’re treated to a really nice emotional, harmonic vocal display which has quite a few subtle hooks throughout and there’s actually quite a lot of nuance to the track as a whole honestly. One of the highlights from this album for me so far and worth checking out if you’re looking for a track or two to sample before jumping in.
There’s a weird sense of familiarity to “phantom pain”‘s opening instrumental with it jangly synthesizers, noodley guitar riffs and punchy drumbeat but I can’t for the life of me place where I might have heard something like this before. In any case, I love the energy that it’s bringing to the table compared to some of the album’s previous offerings and when the vocals eventually get introduced they’re right there with it too, with a modest nod to Yukueshirezutsurezure in places as well which was a bit of a blast from the recent past that I wasn’t really expecting. Not so much the screaming side of things but a lot of the other aspects of the group’s vocal style reappear here. It’s all going pretty good but then that first chorus hits and we’re running into a similar high note problem that I had on “innocence soar”. It’s nowhere near as bad on this track but it is one of those things where I found myself being pulled out of the moment and it’s so hard to say this because I genuinely do like pretty much everything else going on here. The riffs, synth melodies, vocal flows, everything but the high notes in choruses man. Maybe I’m being a bit too harsh, hopefully the song grows on me a bit more with repeated listens but that’s just how I’m feeling about it right now I guess. Chances are you guys will have an even better time with it if you give it a chance, so definitely do so.
I thought that we might have been heading off in a more Rock leaning direction for the first 30 seconds or so of “for something”, what with how that opening instrumental was coming across and all. Good tension, some nice riffs and then once the vocals got introduced everything sort of calmed down and the track took on more of a Ballad quality which wasn’t what I was really hoping for at all. The guitars are nice and fuzzy so it has that going for it but yeah, it’s all coming across a bit low energy and it’s not really helped by the sombre sounding vocals which, while admittedly quite pleasant to listen to, aren’t exactly doing a whole lot to get the excitement or even the imagination going. Things do pick up a little bit for the choruses but even then it’s just this sort of bland, mid-tempo style that doesn’t feel like it’s doing a whole lot different to everything else going on in the song. Compared to a bog-standard Ballad then sure there’s a decent amount going on here but at the same time it really isn’t anything that you wouldn’t have heard multiple times before in a whole bunch of different places. Decent enough in a vacuum, it fills a role that needs filling well enough but I wouldn’t class this as recommended listening from this album by any stretch of the imagination, unless you’re super into this sort of thing then by all means disregard everything that I’ve just typed.
Wow do things start off incredibly bright on the album’s penultimate track “cross”. Not totally sure about the treatment the opening riff got there but they soften everything up a bit as the instrumental develops with piano, synthesizers and the like. Still though, there’s this really jarring high frequency that’s really dominating and doing a bit of a number on my ears in all honesty so I’m not really sure what’s going on with exactly but it’s there so it is what it is. The vocals are a bit of a mixed bag in the verses, having some nice melodies but also a few of those stray high notes are creeping in too which is unfortunate. Well, it’s a whole lot better than what they’ve done with the choruses I guess because they’re just this really unpleasant collection of high pitched harmonies and sharp piano notes which I have no idea what the plan was for exactly but as far as I’m concerned they blew it. I’ve been kinda turning the corner on Tefutefu thanks to this album but man do they lose me when it comes to songs like this. Don’t get me wrong, the instrumental is pretty darn enjoyable but oh man I just honestly can’t with the vocals. I’m sure there’s an audience out there that this sort of thing appeals to but it really isn’t for me unfortunately. What can I say, maybe I’m just getting old and my ears can’t take this kind of thing anymore.
We opened the album with a previously released digital single and that’s exactly how we’re going to close things out too. “double” was TOKYO Tefutefu’s second digital offering and you can read my initial thoughts on the track here if you would like to do so. It also got a bit of an update for the same reasons that “innocence soar” did but anyone expecting massive differences between the two versions isn’t going to get too much of that here. I though the track was pretty good already anyway, with its nice and soft Piano Rock instrumental with a rich bass component to it from both the drums as well as the bass guitar itself. A bit of a Zenkimi vibe to things in places, something I said originally and still think is a pretty fair comment even now and by no means a bad thing either. Vocally things are kept fairly mid-tempo and natural in tone which after a few of the other tracks on this release is more than fine by me. They add a bit more flair to things with some codomomental style whispered ramblings here and there but for the most part it’s all very standard stuff on that side of the track equation. One thing I would still say is that they could have perhaps done a bit more with the instruments rather than just turning all of the sliders up a few notches but hey, everything works more than well enough as it is so I’ll stop before I start really trying to ruin a good thing here. Good, solid closer for what has been a mostly good release here.
So yeah, I’m definitely a bit more positive on TOKYO Tefutefu coming out of this album review than I was coming in but man are there a few tracks here that make it really hard to say nice things about them. Maybe I’m being too harsh, there are a lot of positives too, but it isn’t that often when a track can make me have such a negative reaction and there’s more than one here so I’m just being honest. Your mileage may vary though so I would definitely suggest checking out the release and making your own mind up.
You’re probably never going to catch me proclaiming to be TOKYO Tefutefu’s biggest fan but there’s definitely a lot of potential for the group and they are a codomomental property after all so chances are I’ll still be paying reasonably close attention to them whenever they put out some new music. Not a group that are likely to find their way into my playlist rotation too often but there’s a couple of tracks I can definitely get down with so you’ll probably catch me writing about whatever it is that they end up doing next too. Probably weren’t expecting that after the intro, were ya?