An Cafe - Harajuku Dance Rock

review - 05.20.2009 23:32

Maru Music brings another An Cafe release to North America, featuring songs from the group's latest singles.

Maru Music has brought another An Cafe release to the American public. Harajuku Dance Rock combines songs from their singles Koakuma USAGI no koibumi to machine gun e.p. and AROMA. The second disc includes the PVs for three of the songs.

The album opens with a bright, optimistic number that is perfect for summer. Fast paced and danceable, SUMMER DIVE is a strong starter. takuya and Yu-ki each get a solo during the bridge, which finishes off with them playing the same line together. This is followed by MY HEART LEAPS FOR “C”. Opening with a light whimsical keyboard, the song changes direction as a fast dance beat enters along with a jazzy keyboard in the verses. kanon’s playful bass in the upbeat chorus comes in short, punctuating beats. The touching lyrics in the refrain are a promise from the band to their fans: “I’ll sing you a song when you’re filled with anxiety, I’ll warm you when you’re cold.”

Track three, KAWAYU’S RocK, is one of the more intriguing tracks on the album with its blend of cheery An Cafe sound and mainstream visual kei. Almost like a tribute to the darker visual sound, or a demonstration that An Cafe is able to produce that kind of music too, it stretches the limits of An Cafe's style. Opening with a dark guitar, kanon’s low thrumming bass soon steals the show. While the lines of the other instruments are aggressive and menacing, Teruki’s fast drumming gives the song an air of playfulness, which is continued in the fast disco beat of the chorus. Miku’s voice is distorted, and he adds in some trilling screams and death voice growls, especially at the end.

The fourth track, ZETSUBOU, is one of the surprises of the album if you didn’t hear it on their second most recent single. It opens with a dark piano and falls into a fast jazzy pace, unusual for An Cafe. The song relies heavily on piano, and the guitar is merely ornamental. Miku’s singing also feels a little more like it belongs in a jazz club, and the fast pace gives a lighter feel to the song’s dark melodies. NYAPPY in the world 4 ~theme to Hannyaism~ starts out with a fast pace, and Miku’s machine gun rapping, accompanied by synthesizers, builds tension in the song. This song has an especially pop feel with an energizing and danceable beat.

AROMA, the title track from their most recent single, is a dark and romantic rock song. The verses are propelled by takuya’s sprinting guitar lines, and we are treated to some heavy headbanging interludes before the fast paced but melancholy chorus. It is followed by BEST APART, a light ballad that fans of their harder sound will probably find excessively sentimental. While most of the song is nothing outstanding, the bridge that comes in twice is very compelling. The keyboard changes up and the new vocal melodies are a little higher and also accompanied by new synths.

The lyrics card includes lyrics in Japanese and English, so fans can follow along with the words and understand them. The translation is particularly useful for those areas where Miku is rapping quickly.

On the DVD, the music videos are all perfect quality, and it is convenient to have all three together here. SUMMER DIVE is a colorful PV that shows the group rocking out on a narrow set with sky patterned walls. Those images alternate with them floating against a more realistic sky background as they reach for an ever evasive strawberry pillow. Following is the video for MY HEART LEAPS FOR “C”, which shows Miku agonizing about what to say in his love letter, which he eventually presents to the camera at the end of the clip. In contrast to SUMMER DIVE, the group’s outfits are tamer with a color scheme of black, gray and white, though the sets in the video are still insanely colorful.

The video for AROMA has a very different atmosphere. With a dark setting lit by candles, mostly black outfits and a burning black rose, the severe imagery fits the music. Particularly poignant is the image of Miku seriously contemplating the bride-less wedding gown beside him on the couch.

With seven of their newest songs, a lyrics card of romaji and English and three PVs, this release is quite a bargain for any An Cafe fan and is well worth the purchase.
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