After having an interesting start as an indie rock band with some pop influences, LoVendoЯ has finally had their major debut with the double A-side single ‘Iin ja nai? / Futsuu no Watashi Ganbare!’ This release is actually quite unique in comparison with their previous efforts. To begin with, there are instrumental tracks included, which are non-existent in all of their other releases. Now that their skills have improved immensely since they started, the guitarists were actually able to provide compositions this time around. While this is not unheard of in most rock bands, LoVendoЯ has a deep-rooted basis in pop due to one of their members being a prominent ex-idol from Morning Musume. That being said, let’s jump right into the review of the music.
First off is what I believe is the strongest point of the whole release: Iin ja nai? The song has a very strong rock feel with some very nice tunes. One thing I really like about it is that there are no real breaks in the sounds. We continuously get a barrage of either guitar, bass or drums at all times, excluding the occasional transition. Throughout the song you will also hear some very solid (though admittedly relatively simplistic) solos from each guitarist in order to add the kind of individual personality needed to help each band member stand out in her own way. Also, Reina’s vocals, while still carrying that slight idol feel from her past, are actually much improved and appropriate in this song. Marina also provides strong vocals here as well. Unfortunately, I feel like their two vocal styles differ enough to offer a sometimes sharp contrast. While I personally like Marina’s singing better than Reina’s, they both do their parts beautifully in this song. That being said, I do like how the stark contrast is actually played as a positive quality in this song, where it oddly works out quite nicely. This song is going to provide a nice barrage of sounds to your ears in a nonstop aural pleasure-fest. The strong quality is no surprise though, considering the fact that this song’s lyrics, composition and chorus were all written by the acclaimed Takui Nakajima, who has not only composed songs for LoVendoЯ, but has also done so for ANGERME, C-ute and other big acts associated with Up-Front.
Moving on to the other A-side: Futsuu no Watashi Ganbare! This song actually has a bit of pop and jazz feel to it, rather than a strictly rock style like Iin ja nai? This offers a nice contrast to the other A-side, thus providing some nice variety to the release. In this song, the two vocalist actually work to try and match each other’s style in order to provide a more harmonious experience to couple with the slightly more chaotic style of the instrumentals. The mix of styles within the instruments actually really play out quite nicely due to the talent of the band as a whole (including the uncredited bass and drums). One thing of particular note that I noticed is the way that it sounds like Marin and Yuki actually have a conversation with each other through the use of their guitars throughout various parts of the song (a style with an origin in jazz). This adds a sort of interaction to the song that you don’t see in the average rock band these days, which is very welcome. Overall, this song also helps push LoVendoЯ forward with a much stronger sound than their previous (and slightly more conservative) past.
Desert of a moonlight night ~Tsukiyo no Sabaku~, composed by Yuki Uozumi (one of the guitarists), is an instrumental track that actually reminds me of the sort of strong battle music I’m used to hearing out of a Japanese style RPG game. It’s a very fast paced instrumental track that really helps show off Yuki’s skills of being able to change notes quite quickly and adeptly. Princess of lone castle ~ Koujou no Himegimi ~, composed by Marin Miyazawa (the other guitarist), sounds like something straight out of an anime. It has a more adventurist feel that makes you feel like you’re being taken on a journey rather than through a tough challenge or fight like Yuki’s song. Being composed by Marin, this one plays on Marin’s skills of a more heavy handed style of guitar playing. While it isn’t really fast-paced (in comparison to Desert of a moonlight night), it is plays more on the ability to mend together sounds to create a pleasant melody without the need to be overly complex or intense. Both of the instrumentals are a very welcome change to their normal releases and I hope they keep up with these in the future.
Iin ja nai? / Futsuu no Watashi Ganbare! released on July 1, 2015 with 3 editions and won 7th place on the Weekly Oricon Charts. All editions include the double A-sides and their instrumental versions as well. Additionally, Regular Edition A contains Desert of a moonlight night ~Tsukiyo no Sabaku~ (Yuki’s song) while Regular Edition B contains Princess of lone castle ~ Koujou no Himegimi ~ (Marin’s song). The Limited Edition, while only including the double A-side and their instrumentals, does also include a DVD with both music videos and three performances of Sennou, Soushi Souai and Hontou no Kimochi from their final performance from their Steal Your Heart tour (Performed in Shinjuku BLAZE, which I had the pleasure of attending and I can tell you was one of the best concerts I’ve seen.). The single can be purchased from iTunes or from cdjapan.co.jp.
◆Reina Tanaka – Vocals
◆Marina Okada – Vocals
◆Yuki Uozumi – Guitar
◆Marin Miyazawa – Guitar
◆Tabasa Hayashi – Bass
◆Kiyoshi – Bass
◆Jirou Miyanaga – Bass
◆Kaori Kobayashi – Drums
◆Yu Yamauchi - Drums
Videos for all four songs can be viewed below: