Especia – Gusto Review

Especia Gusto Album Cover

Release Date: May 28, 2014

Track Listing

  1. Intro
  2. BayBlues
  3. Foolish
  4. Adventure wa Giniro ni (Gusto ver.)
  5. Mount Up
  6. Behind You
  7. Usotsuki no Anela
  8. Intermission
  9. No. 1 Sweeper
  10. L’ellsir d’amore
  11. Umibe no Satie (PellyColo Remix)
  12. Midnight Confusion (Pureness Waterman Edit)
  13. Kuru Kana
  14. Abyss
  15. Ya-Me-Te! (Gusto ver.)
  16. Outro

Review

Especia Gusto

Especia is a Japanese idol group formed in June 2012. Their current roster contains 6 members (it was formerly 10 until they lost 4 to graduation):

  • Tominaga Haruka (冨永悠香)
  • Mise Chihiro (三瀬ちひろ)
  • Sannomiya Chika (三ノ宮ちか)
  • Sugimoto Akane (杉本暁音)
  • Wakita Monari (脇田もなり)
  • Mori Erika (森絵莉加)

Gusto is their first album containing 9 new songs and versions of their previously released singles.

Especia is known for its unique sound that is a throwback to 80’s synth-pop, funk and disco. For those too young to relate, ask your grandparents or aunts/uncles about that era of music.

For everyone else not heading towards the retirement home, consider Especia similar to Tokyo Girls Style but sent another decade further back in time. When this first started playing, I thought I had the wrong album because there were no traces of the normal Japanese idol-isms anywhere.

I waited for the first full song to kick in, and I was still in disbelief that this was an idol group. Well, until their vocals started, I got that familiar feeling of listening to an idol group.

One would think this type of gimmick would be a detriment, but it all works in Especia’s favour. At the very least, they stand out amongst the large crowd of girl groups. Granted, they may be considered an acquired taste since they don’t do typical Genki and assembly line-type idol music.

Also, their songs are much longer than what idol fans may be used to. (by 2 or 3 minutes more) So if you have idol ADD, check out now and forget about reading the rest of this article.

Are you still with me? Good. If you like the aforementioned Tokyo Girls Style or songs like BiS’ Elegant Monster, this will probably be well within your comfort zone. And again, if you are old and remember the 80s, you will probably enjoy a trip down the memory (or nightmare) lane of your wasted youth through idols.

The song that struck me right away was BayBlues. I was confused and intrigued at the same time. It sounded a bit like a Sade song at first to me. It took some time to get used to the cheesy 80’s sexy sax as backing music for girls who were not born when this type of stuff was popular.

The good thing is that the song has the qualities of a solid R&B love jam. I just don’t see anyone out there adding this as part of their soundtrack to set the mood for some bump & grind. But props to you if you can pull that off successfully and get your freak on.

Here’s a stupid question. How many of you remember Jermaine Stewart? No hands, huh? Y’all making me feel old. But his greatest hit (We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off) and Especia’s Mount Up certainly have a lot of similarities in some parts.

If there’s one track that probably captures the essence of what this group is about, it is most likely No. 1 Sweeper. It hits everything perfectly in regards to capturing that 80s vibe. It manages to pull the retro card yet still sound somewhat relevant to the idol atmosphere. That’s no easy feat to pull off.

In the end, Gusto is a fairly consistent album that succeeds at staying true to its concept and keeping one interested in a said trip to retro land. As I stated earlier in this review, this may not be for everyone.

Let’s face it, you can’t necessarily do any of the normal wotagei to the music presented, and a lot of it sounds like it belongs on the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City soundtrack. But if you are willing to open yourself to something outside the usual idol template, give Especia a shot. You won’t be disappointed.

About Greg 327 Articles
Greg is the creator, administrator, editor, code monkey, overlord and general jack of all trades at Selective Hearing. He can be found lurking among the overseas Asian pop fandom and bumming around Japan every year for some reason or another.