Unraveling the mysterious Japanese synth-pop group’s debut full length album.

passepied
Release Date: June 12th 2013

Track Listing

  1. S.S
  2. Namae no Nai Tori
  3. Fever
  4. Cinema
  5. On the Air
  6. Kudaranai Koto Bakari
  7. Deja Vu
  8. Haikara-san
  9. World End
  10. Carnival

Review

Most of you probably haven’t heard of Japanese synth-pop band Passepied. Formed in 2009, they’re a pretty odd group in that they don’t like to reveal their faces much outside of their live performances.

Maybe they’re just a bit shy but that’s not really the point. If they’re good enough for iTunes Japan to name them “New Artist 2013” then surely their debut album must be worth a look right?

The album’s opening track “S.S” would certainly suggest that Passepied are worth knowing more about and does a good job of setting the tone for the proceedings. The high tempo keyboard playing and punchy drum beat do wonders to make the ears prick up and say “Well, hello there”. Vocalist Ogoda Natsuki’s voice has a unique quality to it that might be difficult to digest at first but it grows on you after a while.

I probably shouldn’t say this right now but “S.S” is probably the best song on the album for my money. Not the best thing to be saying to you the reader who is going in blind but it’s true. However, there are plenty of other songs on offer here that I really enjoyed so I’m going to focus on those and leave my very insignificant criticisms until the end.

Track 4 “Cinema” being a great example of another track that I enjoyed greatly. It has a pretty groovy beat, great for just laying back and chilling out to. The synths give off a very space-y feel and kind of remind me of “The Final Countdown” by Europe as strange as that may sound. You should take a listen and see if you agree (see what I’m doing here?).

“On the Air” starts out sounding like a fairly low-key affair, something I would have been more than okay with because this is the kind of “ballad” type song that I actually like a lot. That not the case here though, with the tempo ebbing and flowing over the course of the song into a crescendo of intricately arranged vocal patterns and keyboard riffs.

Speaking of ballads, “Deja Vu” fills that role perfectly for this album. Ogoda’s at times sultry vocals combined with a lounge flavor that’s accentuated by some brilliant piano sweeping makes for an enjoyable listen. I’m not a guy with a music degree (shocking, I know) but I think this song has a really nice flow and the transitions are really well done too. Okay nerd glasses off, let’s move on.

The last song from Enshutsuka Shutsuen that really made an impression on me is “Haikara-san”. I don’t know about you, but those opening instrumentals do disgusting things to my ears. Ogoda’s vocal work again really makes the song memorable and is a testament to her talent as a singer. Again, I can’t help but think I’ve heard this song somewhere before. I can’t place it though but it seems really familiar in some ways.

I do have a couple of criticisms of the album although they might not even be an issue for you. My main one is that as good as Ogoda is as a vocalist, there are a couple of songs where she strays a little too close to “anime character” vocals. The main example of this being in the song “Fever” which you can watch the PV for above (that worked out pretty well, right?). It isn’t a huge deal breaker but I just can’t help but wonder how much better some of the songs would sound if she wasn’t trying to sing in such a high pitch.

My other criticism of the album is that the band does tend to re-use a lot of instrumental patterns on different songs. It sounds like the biggest nit-pick ever considering how much I’ve been saying I love the record but I noticed it so I wanted to point it out. That’s just me being really critical though and it shouldn’t affect your enjoyment of the songs too much hopefully.

Overall though, there is a lot of musical variety on offer here despite what I said above. Passepied aren’t going to be to everyone’s tastes but I think music like this definitely deserves to get more exposure. Sure the album has its highs and lows but it certainly did enough for them to gain a new fan in me.

Passepied’s Website
Passepied on Twitter

Enshutsuka Shutsueen (Regular Edition)

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Enshutsuka Shutsuen (Limited Edition)

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