Don’t think about it.
So, my first post of the new year won’t be on a Countdown of any sort. Surprise, surprise.
But that’s probably because I drew this one up before the year changed. Oops?
It’s both mean and pathetic to admit, but when it comes to male vocalists, cases where I think both the person’s vocals and looks are always good are few and far between. This has led to a distinct gap in my listening habits – for example, I adore Miura Daichi’s vocals, but the boy is just not photogenic. (That’s okay, though, I’m not either.) Then there’s the Johnny’s – enough said.
井上ジョー [Inoue Joe] is a bit of a toss up. Not always a good shot, and sometimes his voice comes off as rough. When it comes out good, though, it comes out good.
Recently, I downloaded his second (and latest) single, CLOSER. I still have no clue what compelled me to do so, especially since I’d never heard him before and when I downloaded the single, it was tagged as being the latest ending to the NARUTO anime. Which, I, uh, don’t watch. Whatever spurred the decision, I’m rather glad for it.
The titular track threads a catchy vocal melody through a throng of guitars. And I mean a throng. There are times when I listen to the chorus and have the impression that Joe’s vocals, even with backup, are battling with the guitars to be heard. It’s the same guitars that add power to the song, and they build up at just the right moments for that perfect shounen anime adventure feeling. There’s also a regal instrumental break after the second chorus that breaks the song’s pace, slowing it down until the guitars run full speed back into the foreground. It’s a well-put together song that flows through the ears fairly easily, overall – and the chorus has a very real danger of sticking in the head.
GRAVITY, the first B-side, maintains the rock mood and the guitars, though it ends with some light acoustic strums. Perhaps it’s because the song is completely in English, perhaps it’s because he starts out singing in a wistful tone and suddenly turns defiant without completely accomplishing it, but Joe’s vocals sound a lot less polished. This does add to the atmosphere of it being an emotional song, though. While it’s nice in its own way, it wears down after a number of listens.
The final B-side, 考えたくない ～Can a guy talk all night?～ [Kangaetakunai ~Can a guy talk all night?~], is a fun if crazy song that really holds true to its hook. Said hook being “I don’t want to think about it.” If you don’t understand Japanese (or lack someone who does to translate for you), part of the fun will be lost on you – that’s okay, it’s still a upbeat track between Joe’s singing and fast guitars. And perhaps the random toilet flushing. If you do, then you’ll be treated to a list of various situations that, uh, yeah. You probably don’t want to think about. It can be a fairly addictive song, though, and is probably what prompted me most to decide that yes, I like Joe. The subtitle of “Can a guy talk all night?” doesn’t completely hold no meaning, by the way. Just say the (full) title and you’ll see.
While not his first single, or even his first release on a major label, CLOSER as a single is a well-rounded piece of work that also showcases various sides of Inoue Joe as a musician, and perhaps as a person. (If that last track isn’t indicative of a sense of humor, I don’t know what is.) I’ll certainly be looking forward to hearing (and probably picking up) more from him, whether or not it was a fluke that got me started in the first place.