Release Date: June 22nd
Number of Editions (1): Regular Edition
Suiyoubi no Campanella make their Major Debut with a Mini Album featuring highs and lows
When you’re one of the most acclaimed uprising acts in music, the passage to a Major Label is a very delicate moment: many are expecting more from you, someone pretends that you’ll stay the same, while others will be ready to bash you, no matter what.
It’s the case of Suiyoubi no Campanella, one of the most interesting J-pop/Electronic outfits of the last years, that’s entering in the mainstream scene with a brand new contract signed with Warner Music Japan, while taking swift looks at a possible worldwide expansion in the meantime. With several valuable works under the belt, including last year’s highly acclaimed record Zipang, it’s clear that the weight this valid team of artists carries on the shoulders is everything but a joke.
With the Major Debut record UMA, Suiyoubi no Campanella brings to the table a short journey that plays with previously mastered formulas, adopts different sonorities, and experiments with new patterns, exactly as you would expect from such a creative outfit. But with so little time at their disposal, and high expectations to meet after setting the bar so high, it’s legit to wonder if this release is as solid as the group’s previous works.
The answer is no. There are some clear flaws in this seven-tracks mini album, and some new experimentations don’t always work. On the bright side, though, it also features several enjoyable moments, and they’re mostly exposed right at the beginning, after pushing the “Play” button.
Campanella indeed kicks off this new record with Chupacabra, a number that brings back the highly acclaimed mix of Electronic music and Rap, with deep beats coupled by KOM_I’s vocals, enriched by edgy synths in a pleasant drop well placed in this masterfully structured track, which promises to be a new classic of their catalogue. The group keeps it up with the following Tsuchinoko, adopting the same classic formula in a softer way, alternating soothing and high-pitched vocals and fusing them with playful melodies, that keep the mood up in an effective way. These two tracks alone confirm how the group still got what it takes to make deep and detailed music genuinely fun, and it’s great to hear Campanella’s signature sound pleasing our ears once again.
Still, things start to change from this moment on, and it’s where the album starts to become a kind of hit and miss experience. Yeti brings interesting sonorities, but its structure feels recycled, and KOM_I’s vocals aren’t biting as usual, as if the singer doesn’t feel comfortable with this particular singing style. The following Unico is an uninspired ballad with no particular merit, and it’s kind of a let down considering how the group always managed to pull off great songs following this style. Phoenix luckily takes the mood back where it was, relying on catchy vocal melodies and a convincing chorus, and despite feeling a bit simplistic, it still manages to deliver a fun and enjoyable experience. Sadly, the last two tracks are the most disappointing part of UMA: They’re the longest numbers in here, and the will of experimenting sounds more like an excuse to deliver a rushed piece of work, with a result that’s honestly boring and unconvincing, despite a few nice passages here and there. It’s a real shame that this album had to be closed like this.
Ultimately, the main problem with this record, is that everything new tried here sounds like a rushed attempt at meeting the deadline, with some clear tricks here and there to make most of these numbers catchy and less detailed, translating in a faster line of work. The result is fine, but not as deep as you would expect from Suiyoubi no Campanella, and the fact the few tracks bringing their classic style represent the highlights of this release, is something to think about.
UMA is a record that undoubtedly feels disjointed and not polished as the group’s previous releases. In the end, though, most of its tracks are enjoyable, but not as convincing and memorable as you would expect. A real shame, considering how creative and fresh this group actually is.
Vote: 6.5 / 10