D=OUT is an unusual band in the visual kei scene. Too optimistic to be considered average and yet not eccentric enough to be labeled oshare kei, genres like "pop" and "rock" don't seem to even enter the equation for the group who regularly mixes both. With their natural and positive sensibility, the group is now back with their first cover album, and though it starts off a little slowly, ultimately it doesn't disappoint.
The release opens with Koi no vacance, a laid back dance number that is surprisingly decorated with trumpet phrases. D=OUT’s claim to fame is probably their particular blend of pop, jazz and rock that allows for a simultaneously catchy, energetic and relaxing atmosphere – which is demonstrated well enough in Koi no vacance. Unusual here are the brass instruments and playful keyboard parts. While the track is solid and enjoyable, it’s not the best of D=OUT; their previous single Hana saki beauty was much more evocative. However, listeners shouldn’t be discouraged by the lack of magic in the first track. The real gems of Touryuumon come later.
The following Kabukichou no joou is full of melodies lovely enough to warrant repeating, and vocalist Kouki’s delivery is endearing as always. The intro and verses are intriguing for their phrases that evoke images out of a Western – you can almost see the gunslingers on their horses, a saloon at sunset, and tumbleweeds blowing across the dusty ground. Rouge no dengon is a bit more disappointing, unless you’re an avid fan of ‘60s 'doo-wop' numbers. Even so, the beat and melodies are undeniably pleasant, and Kouki’s evident élan is infectious.
kassai is a delightful light rock number that again showcases D=OUT’s penchant for capturing enchanting melodies. Relaxed and leisurely paced, kassai is moving and mesmerizing, almost balladic even. The guitars of Hikaru and Ibuki carry an attitude of relative heaviness despite the song’s light tone, sometimes playing a duet just with Kouki as Minase’s drum beat disappears. Track five, Manatsu no umi, has a hypnotic dance feel, surprising harpsichord accompaniment and an almost polka-like rhythm that surfaces in the group’s songs every now and then. Imaginative and dreamy, it’s another song you can get lost in.
The next three tracks are nothing short of spectacular, and are sure to grow on you with each listen. Momen no hankachiifu is a fast paced rock number that will be great in the live houses. Reika’s bass is especially present, frolicking between the glinting guitars. With its optimistic feel and mercurial rhythm, this infectious number will put a bounce in your step and a smile on your face. Track seven, Heya to Y shatsu to watashi, is a proper ballad, slow and soothing with a waltz-like rhythm but also emotionally provocative and poignant. Like most of D=OUT’s ballads, it creates an atmosphere straight out of a fantasy world.
The mini-album closes on a strong note with a fast paced rock number. Opening with a driving beat and piano notes dancing over guitars, Tsuyoku hakanai mono tachi may well be the best song on the whole album. Its chorus is enchanting and uplifting and seems to have been made just for Kouki. The presence of each member is strongly felt throughout; at times, Reika steals the show with his bass line and the other instruments fall back as support. The guitars have their own solo in the bridge, and Minase attacks the drums with real flare, especially in the chorus.
With their second mini-album, D=OUT has brought their fans another bit of magic and intrigue. This release has something for fans of just about any type of music; it's a little unusual in the pop world and unique in the visual scene. Currently one of the most consistently creative and enjoyable groups in the Japanese music scene, D=OUT's Touryuumon is representative of their work and certainly warrants a listen.
D=OUT - Touryuumon
review - 20.08.2009 23:51
Visual band D=OUT's second mini-album is another imaginative and moving hit.