May 2022

FOG by ego apartment

Released: 22.05.18 / Label: NihyakuWIND

FOG is the lead single for ego apartment‘s newest self-titled album, and I’ve got to be honest here, this sounds super rushed. Coming from a group that has some great songs in their catalog, this one is just disappointing in so many ways.

The track’s opening is cliché, but it redeems itself with a great pop melody in the verse and bridge. I love the use of ambient noise and guitar fiddling to add texture and motion, but the rhythm section is glaringly bad. The drums are lazily written and the general groove they’ve gone with is flat out boring.

The vocals are well-sung and emotive, something I’ve come to expect from the group, despite one singer not having any idea what he’s saying… The first verse is just unintelligible, which is a shame because the second verse sounds great. I don’t know why they had the tenor sing in English here, he clearly needed more practice. He usually just sticks to the Japanese parts and sounds great doing it. It’s confusing why they would shake things up on a lead single. The FX work is top notch, and it seems like they had fun crafting it, but the programming is very robotic and lacks dynamic nuance.

The recording and mixing process seem rushed. It sounds like they were working under pressure to get this single out before the album dropped, but I wish they had spent a bit more time improving everything. The drums sound like they’re in a gigantic room while the guitar sounds muffled, at the same time the vocals need to be re-recorded and tweaked in post. Whoever mixed this really did an already shaky track a disservice, the balance is all over the place and nothing pops. I don’t know why the song is called FOG, but they’ve certainly achieved that sound.

This is what happens when a group has no time to polish a track. What could have been a powerful driving pop song comes up short.

Verdict: Skip (1.6/5)

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Airride by YAJICO GIRL

Released: 22.05.18 / Label: MASH A&R

Airride has found moderate success with YAJICO GIRL fans, but has failed to attract many new listeners. And I think I have an idea as to why: the song is kinda just meh.

This is a case of a band doing everything a little bit too by-the-book, resulting in a track with a nice guitar hook, a decent overall arrangement, and some interesting rhythm in the melody, but nothing that stands out as memorable. The vocals wander aimlessly around the chords, while the chorus is repetitive with no real payoff. The songs whole structure seems like it’s cut and paste from the pop musicians handbook. I did appreciate the extended bridge section being turned into the outro, but that might be due to being tired of the chorus by the end of the song.

All of the band members are exceptional musicians, but something clearly went wrong during the recording session. I think they were going for a “chill” vibe, but the final product falls flat. What results are some pretty emotionless individual parts that don’t really mesh together.

The whole song is based around the concept of an “airride”, which seems to be the group’s term for “reminiscing about past love.” Unfortunately, thsee memories aren’t particularly interesting; going to a restaurant, going to a bread shop, sleeping next to someone, getting yelled at. Although liberally self-referenced as “poetry” in the chorus, the lyrics have remarkably little to say.

However, the production of the track is where they hit the mark. Everything is super clean, and they’ve clearly recorded in a high-quality studio. Given the band’s breakout success with earlier tracks, I’d guess someone dropped some real money in the hopes of riding the wave of popularity to fame. The mixing is superb and it gives the the track a great overall balance. I hope they recorded some other songs in that session.

Verdict: Take it or leave it (2.5/5)

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