Perfume - Saisei
A glittery trip down memory lane.
Perfume have always been a group who have pushed forward musically. Every album they have released has featured a fundamentally different musical identity from the others. From the electro-house style of Triangle; to the softer, more dynamic electropop of JPN; to the grander synthpop of Cosmic Explorer and so on. This is to such a point where each new album is considered a musical “era” for the group by most fans, and this more than anything else reflects Perfume's efforts to continually evolve.
While musical evolution is the rule for Perfume, there are always exceptions to every rule. Overall, their recent single Saisei is more of a throwback to an older style Perfume once utilized. Actually, it would be a bit misleading to say that this song looks back on any one particular style. Instead, it seems to compile a number of previous styles of Perfume's songwriting into one four-minute package.
The song's arrangement is understated and possesses a driving synth line that is similarly near-omnipresent throughout. The upper synths shine in a way reminiscent of the kind featured on their Perfume ~The Complete Best~ compilation. Saisei also features a simultaneously abrasive synth tone in the bass which was especially common in Perfume's earlier work, particularly on their album GAME. All of this is mixed with vocal melodies that are representative of the trio’s more contemporary works.
What comes with this song as far as the composition is concerned is exactly what one might expect from the group’s long-time composer Yasutaka Nakata. All the synth elements, mixed with Perfume's signature airy vocal delivery and the alternative harmonies Nakata is well-known for, make for a sound that shimmers and sparkles in a way that’s nostalgic, a little sentimental, but still forward-moving.
An unexpected highlight of Saisei is the ending. At first, the listener is led to believe the song is over until a short, quiet coda begins, featuring a real piano that gently plays back the chorus’s melody one more time. Every keystroke is gentle and the sound of the sustain pedal can be heard, giving the impression that the piano is breathing, as if it's a living thing.
This is a song that manages to take a sentimental look at the past musically while still moving towards the future in a way that is extremely difficult to do. Whether this was intentional or not, it is impressive either way, and with Perfume's 20th anniversary fast approaching, a quick look back isn't such a bad idea, both for the fans and the group themselves.
Saisei is available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music.
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