Don’t blink or you’ll miss it!
I hate having to eat my words. Not literally, of course, though I guess if they were printed with butter on a slice of brioche-esque brick toast it wouldn’t be quite so bad.
No, see, I carelessly remarked to Ruri that Inoue Joe‘s latest single, 幻 [Maboroshi], wasn’t as fun as his last. Well, start rounding up that bread and butter.
To be honest, I made the judgement call based off the promotional video. CLOSER‘s video was certainly fun, with the theme of the rocker hero Joe and a bit of a paper-cut collage look. Maboroshi‘s was more theatrical, and unfortunately for it, more boring. (Really, I would’ve just gone for a drama if I wanted that. Oh, wait, I don’t like it in my dramas either.) Because the song is a low-key acoustic track, it captures a regretful feeling as well as Joe’s vocals do – especially in the chorus, where the backup vocals create a soothing effect and the music brings in some solemn violins. It’s a beautiful song on its own, and great to listen to, so I’m all the more ashamed for dismissing it on the sole basis of the music video.
But no, that’s not enough. I wronged the single doubly by decrying it as a whole, as compared to just the individual title track. P.J.Anthem wants you to know it will not stand for that. The first B-side of two, this is the catchy pop-infused rock with fun lyrics that made Joe such a big hit with me the first time around. It’s a bit like a less-angry UVERworld, as Joe throws in some rapped stanzas, and blends it into some higher sung parts that makes the fast chorus, addictive on its own, work even better. The opening, with the slightly muted chorus that seems like a playback of the song on the radio, and the ending where it slows down and whines out add to the marketable liveliness. It’s almost a shame that this track is only 2 and a half minutes long.
The final track, PARTY NIGHT ～踊り足りNight～ [PARTY NIGHT ~Odoritari Night~] sounds like it should not coming be from this man. It sounds like it belongs to some R&B diva, and I spent a couple of listens trying to stick in people like Amuro Namie, Crystal Kay, Koda Kumi, AI, BoA, Kuroki Misa, Suzuki Ami, and even melody. in this track. It worked. Sort of. They didn’t sing it like Joe did in my head, and that’s probably the key point here. This song, with its wild synth disco beats, could belong to one of the aforementioned women. It doesn’t, and Joe makes sure it doesn’t. Despite singing and speed-talking in a higher register for pretty much all of the song, and sounding a bit weak at times, this is still a track that belongs to him. He knows how to work his lower and higher pitches together with the computerized music so the end result is a catchy, if 80’s, party song. And even if you don’t like the song, for that, I’d think he deserves a round of applause.
If you were like me and nearly tossed the single aside on the sole merit of its video – don’t. All three tracks are great listens, and the video an example of what just doesn’t work. Well, in my case at least. It is still very highly suggested that you give Joe a try, because I’m not sharing my slice of toast.