You know what? Yes, this is an official cover. Perfume always photograph amazingly well, and their single covers (apart from Nee) are ALWAYS fucking flawless. And then what do we get for JPN? A distant shot against some fake-ass letters and a cover that’s 90% pink slipcase. Well guess what? This is what’s under that slipcase, and it’s damn flawless. I don’t care what the cover they showed us looked like. This is it.
Okay, with a title like The Opening, I’m sure we all knew it would be an intro. Now, Take off was great. This is some bleeps with a sparse beat and some unintelligible vocals, and it’s nothing but ominous. Now, that’s all well and good for some albums, but for a pop album? REALLY? Don’t bother with this. Delete it and don’t look back.
Unfortunately, they follow this up with the album mix of Laser Beam. Thankfully, the album mix is much better than the single mix. It’s basically the same until the post-chorus, 8-bit synth bleeps and clinks and all, until afterwards where a mash-up of vocal cuts plays over a much more lively beat and the next verse comes in with some more flourishes and the song just gets so much BETTER. It may be thirty seconds shorter or so, but honestly, this is how you do an album mix. I went from hating this song to loving every second of it.
Then GLITTER‘s album mix comes in and screws it up. Now, the single mix was amazing, and the best song Perfume had done in this era. This is a club edit with an instrumental one minute long introduction followed by a chorus and the rest of the song. Now, okay, I’d be here for that as a remix b-side, but honestly, in the middle of the album? Probably not the best way to handle things. The chorus is still amazing, but I really just can’t listen to this mix. All I wanted was more of the tribal drumming, and instead we get this.
And then, THANK GOD, Natural ni Koishite comes in, untouched and just as amazingly retro as it’s always been. I get that the girls wanted to be more mature on their second album, but they handled it very wrong. THIS is how you do it. The 80s beat mixed with their unintelligible harmonies and the screeching vocal sample just make for an amazing song, and without being overly complex or having thousands of sounds playing at once. It definitely didn’t need an album mix.
The first new song follows. Now, picture this: Between Complete Best and GAME, Perfume released another single that kind of bridged the gap but didn’t make the cut for the latter. That’s MY COLOR, and quite honestly, it leaves me torn. It’s kind of cute, but it’s also got a decent beat to it. It’s largely a decent song, but it’s just so… Forgettable. And predictable. And to be honest, the click at the beginning of the recording when they inhale just throws me off of the song in the first place, so no, thanks.
Of course, the predictable song has to be followed by the most whack song in Perfume’s discography. Toki no Hari is pretty much to Perfume as Boku wa Kuma was to Utada Hikaru. Extremely simple piano and drum beat with really simple lyrics recited in a sing-a-long manner. Which means it’s no wonder why I can’t stand the thing. So moving on.
Back to single territory right now with Nee. I’ve seen this song get a lot of hate. Yes, it’s got an annoying chant of a chorus, but honestly, this song is probably the best single released on the album for previous Perfume fans. It’s got a great beat, a lot of real video game-y synth use, and the girls sound great out of the chanting. It’s the prime set-up for the perfect electro-clash song, and I think they achieved that goal. Sure, it’s not ACTUALLY perfect as a whole, but the instrumentation in the chorus definitely is, it’s one of the best songs on the album. They’ve had worse hooks before. Though who thought to place this after Toki no Hari?
Unfortunately, they thought keeping up the terrible flow of the album was a good idea. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think Kasuka na Kaori should even exist on this album. Yes, it’s nice to see them do something different, but what is this, a reject Hello! Project song? There are times that I can bring myself to like it, but the natural sound with the guitar and some piano mixed with these particular synths just give me terrible idol flashbacks. It’s not worse than Toki no Hari, but it’s damn well close.
NOW they get the flow right. 575 was probably the best thing about the VOICE single, even if I’m not entirely here. It’s a pretty moody song, with a sparse verse followed by a chorus (and the violin is kind of in the verses as well) sampling Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, of all things. Honestly, it’s pretty much only noteworthy for Kashiyuka’s rap after every chorus, and maybe the haiku structure of the non-rap lyrics if you’re into hidden artsy stuff in your music. It’s okay, but I have to be in a really specific mood to listen to it.
Funnily enough, the a-side of the same single, VOICE, is up next. I kind of want to call this another of Perfume’s idol songs meets Toki no Hari, even if this came out first, but I can honestly bear it a lot more than either song. I can’t say a cute bouncy pop song is what I want from Perfume, and I could live without this, but I’m not entirely against it being here. It’s decent for casual listening.
More new songs pop up here, as well as the only one I can say I legitimately like. Kokoro no Sports is definitely a Complete Best style song, having a much cuter vibe while still retaining their signature sound. It’s quite simple, and consists mainly of a simple 8-bit bass line over a simple beat with a few flourishes and a tambourine coming in later, then amped a bit for the chorus and flowing along for the rest of the song. It’s all a very pleasing package, and their voices sound better in this song than they have on even most of the single tracks. It’s a clear stand-out track on the album for me, though one or two choice a-sides do top it for me.
Then Have a Stroll comes on, and I can’t even explain it. This is the ⊿ track of the album. It bears a huge similarity to Zero Gravity, which means I can’t stand it. The song is basically just really bouncy and like every track on their second full album, with obnoxious xylophone interludes after the chorus. It’s another instant pass for me.
One last album mix appears on the album, though it’s a little sneaky. Nobody was aware Fushizen na Girl was getting an edit on the album, though some significant changes were made, despite it having the least done to it. There’s quite a bit of track skipping this time, and there’s been a guitar thrown into the mix. So, not enough to alter the song as we know it, but enough to give it a new spin and make it a little less stale, since it is one of the two oldest songs on the album. Definitely one of the best a-sides of the era.
Spice, oddly enough, closes the album for us. It’s a little hard to describe, because it’s probably the most static song on the album, consisting of a lot of stuttering beats and claps with some flourishes thrown in to give it a real mysterious feeling. The static nature is probably why it was describes as a House song, and even if I don’t entirely agree with that, it is an interesting and largely enjoyable song, and a perfect way to end the era. Maybe not the album, mind (I can actually see Kasuka no Kaori doing this much better), but the era, definitely.
So, my overall view on this album is rather blunt. It’s not their best album. It’s better than ⊿, but nowhere near as good as GAME. The variety and general production values make it a lot better than their second album, but honestly, they’ll have a hard time topping GAME, because that was a damn good album, especially considering it could be considered as a debut album, depending on your side in the big Complete Best debate. I’m interested to see what the hell they do next, but at the same time, it’s scaring me, because it’s going to be so easy for them to screw it up again.