Perfume Level 3
Release Date: October 2, 2013

Track Listing

  1. Enter the Sphere
  2. Spring of Life (Album-mix)
  3. Magic of Love (Album-mix)
  4. Clockwork
  5. 1mm
  6. Mirai no Museum
  7. Party Maker
  8. Furikaeru to Iru Yo
  9. Point
  10. Daijobanai
  11. Handy Man
  12. Sleeping Beauty
  13. Spending all my time (Album-mix)
  14. Dream Land

Review

So I’m kinda-sorta-maybe a huge fan of Perfume.  Naturally, the release of their latest album, Level3, threw me over the moon and into the Milky Way. However, I also have to acknowledge that part of my joy for the release of Level3 was probably first-release euphoria.

For that reason, I decided to take a little time before reviewing the album, then come back to it with hopefully a more objective viewpoint. After all, on this site and my own blog, I’m a reviewer first, and then I’m a fan. When something is released by an artist I love so much, I really have to step back and try and look at that release as objectively as possible and not let my bias of said artist cloud my judgement. So going in to listen Level3, I tried to keep in mind that the album would probably have its flaws despite being Perfume.

But… I’ve listened to Level3 several times now and I still think it’s great.

And yes, I can admit that Level3 is not a perfect album. But it’s a whole lot better than ⊿ and JPN were (not that those were bad albums either). Something I’ve always liked about Perfume’s albums is a sense of cohesiveness. There always seems to be a general sound that Nakata incorporates into each Perfume album, whether it be the pop-friendly catchiness of JPN or the robotic coldness of ⊿. The girls of Perfume remarked how Level3 was probably their most dance-able album. I still wondered how could it be a “dance album” with Mirai no Museum on it.

However, I will touch more on that particular song later. I can agree with Perfume’s statements that Level3 is a dance album. Kind of. True, I can see tracks like Enter the Sphere, Party Maker, and Spending all my time (Album-mix) blasting in a club, but there are also some surprisingly calm tracks on the album. It’s kind of like a series of crescendos and decrescendos. Songs like Clockwork, 1mm, Furikaeru to Iru yo, and Dream Land are all very chill songs. I think having a combination of high-energy dance songs and relaxing downbeat songs gives Level3 an interesting balance.

Of course, the album isn’t without its duds. And when I say “duds” I’m referring to Mirai no Museum. This in my opinion is the weakest track on Level3 and kind of kills the mood set by the first five tracks on the album. Mirai no Museum is too childish (then again, it was written for a children’s film) especially when it’s put in-between 1mm and Party Maker. I’m not particularly fond of Daijobanai either, but it does at least match the dance style of the album, even if it sounds like the musical equivalent of a shot of heroine.

Beyond those two songs though, I’m impressed with mostly everything else on Level3. I think there was a great balance of new and old songs, and I was thrilled that Point and Handy Man made it to the album. I do wish Hurly Burly had made it lieu of say, Mirai no Museum, but I can live with it not being on Level3. I love the album mix for Spring of Life, as it highlights my favorite parts of the song, particularly that amazing bridge. I’m a little more 50/50 on Magic of Love (Album-mix).  It’s not a horrible mix but… were the bagpipes really that necessary?

All the new songs are great, but my personal favorites are Party Maker and Dream Land. Party Maker serves for a great halfway point in the album; it’s fun, catchy, and best of all, has a nice edge to it (although not as much as the eponymous Perfume song). Dream Land in contrast is much slower, with a music-box opening, and dreamy, soothing vocals. It’s a great way to close the album after the many peaks and dips in energy, with the girls cooing, “Come again” and providing a nice sense of closure.

Of course, the other songs are great too. 1mm, the promotional single, has a great arrangement and a smooth beat. I like that the Global Site music was incorporated in to the dance-heavy Enter the Sphere; it makes for a kickass opening song. Clockwork and Furikaeru to Iru yo both took a little while to grow on me, but I really enjoy both songs now. And Sleeping Beauty, despite its lack of vocals from the girls, was still an entrancing song, reminiscent of Butterfly. The new tracks were really what made Level3 such a strong album, helping to even out all the different styles of the group’s singles from the era.

Level3 isn’t without its hiccups, but I found it to be Perfume’s most cohesive and interesting album since Game. This is an album that provides the danciest of dance songs and the calmest of calm songs and everything in-between. Each song compliments the others, and the entire album has the sleek level of professionalism found in Nakata Yasutaka’s work. Almost everything works, and I think it appeals to both the Perfume fans who enjoy the more pop side of Perfume’s music and fans who prefer the more techno side. It may not be as good as Game, but it comes pretty damn close.