OH HEY by Hitsujibungaku and Lücy
Released: 22.05.18 / Label: F.C.L.S.
This surprise collaboration between Japanese Indie-rock group Hitsujibungaku and Taiwanese singer Lücy has taken my local radio by storm the past few weeks. And I can tell you why, it’s a great song! While I think it’s coming at the tail end of Hitsujibungaku’s indie days (their recent successes have me convinced they’ll be moving over to a major label soon) I’m happy to be adding it to the review list while I can!
This song is a fantastic example of how simplicity and energy work so well together. The different member’s parts are extremely straightforward by themselves, but put together they create a track where something fun or interesting is always happening. I really love the guitar riffs throughout the chorus, just enough bite to push things forward but not so much that it takes over the song. The bass and drums add motion but they don’t steal attention from the vocals. And the shared vocals create just enough variation in tone that the repetitive lines they’re singing always seem new. Not to mention the backing vocals giving those powerful little ‘oh hey!’ nudges forward. Also be sure to pay attention to the use of rhythm in the chorus and bridge, the shortened lines adding all that tension and emotion. Chef’s kiss.
Hitsujibungaku’s vocalist Moeka gives a stellar performance here, her voice is well suited for these kinds of songs. Lücy is surprisingly bland in her delivery overall. This is the first time I’ve heard her, so I need to listen to her other work, but I don’t know if she has the right approach here. It works, but just barely, and I don’t think she could do this song solo. The lead guitar’s sound is expertly crafted for the song, as is the bass. And they both play their parts to perfection. The drums could have used a better choice of cymbals and perhaps a little bit higher tuning to blend better, but the performance is tight.
Sadly the bad English from Lücy makes most of the song impossible to understand. Which is strange, because there’s really only like five lines total, so you’d think they could have at least clarified them. It seems like they’d be pretty cool, too, which is annoying. The Japanese lyric sections work well, but I think the two parts are supposed to play off each other, so we really only get half the story. Definitely could have had a lot more impact if they had gotten this right.
The track has great production value. Everything sounds great, so the recording session must have gone smoothly. The mix is also great overall. The twin vocals are balanced well against each other. I really love the guitars panned around us adding all that weight to the groove. The chorus parts are just far enough in the background to give the whole thing scale. I could have used a bit more polish on the drums, particularly the ride. It’s just so close to the vocals, and doesn’t need to be… But the bass drum, and bass play well off each other, so that’s the important thing I guess.
The fact that this was a surprise collaboration means it’s a stand alone release. The cover is super fun and VERY clear on the songs feeling. However things get muddled as to who’s song this is with the inclusion of only one artist name on the cover. The release has been heavily marketed here in Japan as a collaboration, and it was released by a Japanese label, so I’m not sure what happened behind the scenes. Best guess is that she’s the one who proposed the collab, so she gets her name on the cover. Still strange though. Maybe it’s being promoted differently in Taiwan.
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