Album: Perfume – “JPN” (2011)

I haven’t done an album review for a while have I? I’ll try to fix that though, with a return to Japanese electropop girlband Perfume. I only found out about them last year, and I totally fell in love with their “Triangle” album. I hoped followup “JPN” would be just as good. I think it took longer for me to get used to “JPN”, but it’s still a great album that I have no trouble listening through in one sitting.

Loads of positive energy, and a few killer singles, what more could I ask for?

06 The Opening – OK a bit of a basic intro, only a minute long. It’s a shame it doesn’t give such a running start as the opener from “Triangle” did, I wonder why it’s even there, considering the next track is so energetic.

09 Laser Beam – Now I love this one, I had it in my car for ages. Those plinky-plonky synths are back in force. It’s a totally frantic electropop song, with some great stuttering effects on there. Against all this, the vocals are quite relaxed and the melody is almost like a traditional Japanese song if you strip away the 21st century production.

10 Glitter – “Laser Beam” not fast enough? “Glitter” makes up for that, with a hi-octane intro making way for warm fuzzy synths. It takes a minute before there’s even any singing, but it’s great when it arrives. That chorus is so gorgeous, a real thrill to really kick the album off properly. “Triangle” was perhaps heavier with hits, but this is definitely my highlight of the album.

08 Natural ni koishite – Let’s take it down a notch, with a … what, electro R’n’B track? Very smooth and swaggering, just feels so fresh and upbeat, even a bit old-school with a nice twist. Fans of the usual Popjustice kind of giddy electro cute tracks will like this I think.

08 My color – This is definitely a slower album than “Triangle” isn’t it? That wouldn’t be difficult, and it allows to focus more on the melody than the action. This might not be one of the standout tracks, but it’s got plenty of weight to it and a lovely tune. I love the twist the choruses add, it’s all very cutesy J-Pop by numbers, but I really like it.

08 Toki no hari (Needle of time) – A bit of a mini-track, only 2:30 long, and a definite change of pace. Almost like a nursery rhyme, gentle marching beats and Perfume’s sweet-as-sugar vocals. It makes me want to do an exaggerated manga “KAWAIIII” face with tears streaming down my face. I love these girls.

07 Nee (Hey) – Downtempo? What downtempo? The album explodes back into life with another big pop track. The stuttering from “Laser Beam” is back, and in many ways this is where the album starts to repeat itself a little bit. But that’s no worry yet, I’m still enjoying it. The vocals on the verses don’t quite harmonise in the way I’m used to, but it’s a decent track.

08 Kasukana Kaori (Faint fragrance) – Ack, what’s going on, another downtempo? After the music-box intro, it’s not as downtempo as expected, and the track emerges as an adorable midtempo pop song. It sounds like some early 00s Ayumi though, doesn’t it? That’s fortunate because I LOVE that era of Ayumi. The chorus is lovely too, and there’s a really solid melody to it. Well done!

07 575 – I wish I knew what 575 meant. The tempo and the joy does seem a little subdued on this one, I’m not a big fan one this one. The little rap section is quite unexpected but decent. I suppose I might complain if it was wall-to-wall super uptempo tracks though (who am I kidding, of course I wouldn’t!).

08 Voice – This is just a full-on 80s anime theme tune isn’t it? That squeaky production before the first proper verse starts is hyper-cute and cheesy, I love it! This is what I meant was missing in “575”, this just has a lot more cheer to it. Lots of fun.

08 Kokoro no Sports (Sports of the heart) – I love those sad little synths under the surface in the first 30 seconds, makes you think it’s going to be another low-tempo track. But no, a song about sports of the heart(?!) needs some positivity and energy, and they waste no time throwing that into the mix. The chorus really is gorgeous, these girls are totally hypnotic!

07 Have a stroll – Wow, they have a stroll at this speed? One of the paciest backing tracks on the album seems an odd choice for a laid-back title like that. The verses don’t really make much impact, but it seamlessly blends into a delightful chorus. It takes its time to get there, nearly 2 minutes! It might not be the most standout track on the album, but I enjoyed it.

09 Fushizenna Girl (Artifical girl) – That intro just makes me think this is going to be a big single. and indeed this turns out to be the first single from the album campaign. Lots of Japanesey flourishes here and there, with a really hot chorus. That “Can’t stop feeling” bit really is a great hook. Well done, it might have taken a while but this is certainly a superior track.

07 Spice – Closing the album is a rather heady swirl of synths with some lovely layered harmonies. It’s a bit low-tempo (I can’t say downtempo, it’s too upbeat!), with some unusual keys making the melody a bit dizzy and strange. It doesn’t all work, but it’s not a bad track at all. Very cute.

So that’s that. You might laugh at my rather uniform scores there, but even the worst tracks are perfectly listenable and enjoyable. It may not have the highs of “Triangle”, but it holds its own and hasn’t shaken my growing love for these girls. Sugoi!!

Keepers for the iPod: Laser Beam, Glitter… oh what the hell, I’m keeping it all!


Filed under Albums, Music, Reviews

8 responses to “Album: Perfume – “JPN” (2011)

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  6. Koichiii

    Hi, I drifted here when I was surfing for reaction overseas on Perfume.
    You were wondering what the title “575” means. Here is the answer!

    The title “575” comes from the sound pattern of Haiku (a type of Japanese poetry).
    A Haiku has three verses, each has 5, 7 and 5 morae (unit of sound, similar to syllables) respectively. (It could sometimes have one or two morae less or more for each verse.)
    A Japanese would find this 5-7-5 sound pattern very pleasant since we all learned Haiku in our elementary schools and is imprinted in our minds.

    And finally, the song is called “575” because, except the rap section, every part of the lyrics is in this song is in this 5-7-5 pattern!

    • Hi Koichi! Thanks for the interesting information! Maybe I knew that pattern for haiku, but I didn’t think about it for this case, it makes sense!
      I’m really happy to see someone still read my post, I hope there is a new album coming soon to review.
      I hope they come to Osaka for a tour soon too!!
      Did you like the JPN album?

      • Koichiii

        I reckon that JPN was more of an album of typical J-Pop songs, and is quite different from their other albums (probably that’s why they named the album “JPN” as a representative of J-Pop?).
        To be honest, I like their other albums better, especially LEVEL3 and GAME.
        Maybe the album was just a bit too quiet for me … and I couldn’t really see/hear a smooth flow in the album like you could in their other albums (apart from the transition between Laser Beam and GLITTER, which was great). It was more like a collection of single songs, rather than an album as a whole.
        But still, in terms of individual songs, the album is still worth having!

        …and YES! They’re releasing a new album this spring!
        And with that new album, they are doing an arena tour in Japan!

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