Ikimono Gakari – My song Your song

Release Date: December 24, 2008

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Tracklist:

1. Planetarium
2. Kimagure Romantic
3. Bluebird
4. Spice・Magic
5. Kage Boushi
6. Kaeri Taku Natta yo
7. message
8. Happy Smile Again
9. Kuchizuke
10. Boku wa Koko ni Iru
11. Pugi Ugi
12. Maboroshi
13. Kokoro no Hana wo Sakaseyou
14. Kaeri Taku Natta yo -acoustic version- (Bonus Track)

Ikimono Gakari’s third mainstream album begins with the single Planetarium sets the tone very nicely. It’s very typical IG, so it allows the listeners to know what they’re going to hear in this album. Continuing the trend is Kimagure Romantic, another typical song from Ikimono Gakari.

I know that Bluebird is a single, but I never got around to reviewing it for some reason. Guess I’ll start now! This song sets a more mellow tone from the previous singles, but it’s still rather…chirpy. It has a fast paced beat, creating a sense of urgency at times.  The melody is very nice though, I must admit, though the background music doesn’t really seem to match with it. It reminds me of a Gundam song, for some reason…especially the toned down bridge near the end, before the final chorus.

Next up is the first album-exclusive track, Spice・Magic. This one has more of a calming feel to it, compared to the ‘happy happy happy’ songs previously. How do I say it…it has a more natural feeling to it. I personally am liking this song very much at the moment. It’s a very different sound from we expect from Ikimono Gakari, and it’s doing well so far. Something to note: the harmonica is missing in this song.

Ooooohhhhh, Kage Boushi also has a very different sound. It’s happy, but with a bit more edge to it, and also a bit simplier than the usual Ikimono Gakari. The melody soars in this song, something that is lacking in the usual IG songs. This really fits with the previous track; both are different sounds that the listener doesn’t expect to hear. I love the a capella part near the end; it emphasizes the main melody and creates an impact.

After two album-only tracks, we go into another single, Kaeri Taku Natta yo. It was smart of them to put this one in after the previous songs, since they have around the same sound: less typical Ikimono Gakari. After that, message brings us back into typical IG, which is slightly disappointing. Happy Smile Again is the last single of the album, and is also typical IG…

Kuchizuke has a more rock-ish feel to it, compared to Ikimono Gakari’s previous works. It has a really different sound, and it’s not a bad sound. The drums have more of a presence in this song, and the melody is edgier, with a sense of urgency. Also, the harmonica makes an appearance in this song once more…I don’t know if I should miss it or be glad it wasn’t there for a while. The guitar solo is pretty nice though, even though it is accompanied by the harmonica.

We go back into a calmer feeling with Boku wa Koko ni Iru. Unlike the previous song, this song uses the acoustic guitar and mainly focuses on Yoshioka’s vocals. The melody is more like Ikimono Gakari’s ballads, with a soaring melody, and calmer background music. Although, there is a guitar solo…not as impressive as the one in the last song though.

Drums start off the next song, Pugi Ugi. Unlike Ikimono Gakari’s previous works, this seems more rock-oriented and synth-like. It’s almost like those songs that you would hear in a movie when the people were traveling. The song is repetitive, and catchy in a way. Its tone is almost like a children’s song…I swear it’s a Japanese version of a Dora the Explorer song… Yoshioka’s vocals seemed covered up by the instrumentals though.

We slip back into a ballad with Maboroshi. I love the opening instrumentals; it just really sets a beautiful tone. The melody is smooth and very pretty; the little breaks in between the phrases suits the mood nicely. My favourite part has to be the melody in the chorus; it just brings a lot of power into the song, and just also has a jazz-like feeling to it. I think this is my favourite album-exclusive song…or maybe I’m just biased towards ballads (xD). Yoshioka’s voice seems to lose its strength on the higher notes though.

Kokoro no Hana wo Sakaseyou continues the calming feel of the previous track, but also brings back the guitar and the overall Ikimono Gakari style. Ahhhh~ the melody in the chorus is so pretty and uplifting! I think this song could be classified as a ballad too, but not as mellow as the song before it. Yoshioka’s vocals are stronger here, and she seems more in her element singing these kind of songs.

The last track of the album is Kaeri Taku Natta yo -acoustic version-. As the name states, it’s an acoustic version of one of Ikimono Gakari’s singles. I feel it loses the power behind the original, but it may be just the ‘first-time’ bias happening here.

Overall Rating:
3.5/5

Ikimono Gakari – Kimagure ROMANTIC

Release Date: December 3, 2008

51jh0dqakblss500ik9Tracklist:

1. Kimagure ROMANTIC
2. message
3. Kimagure ROMANTIC (Instrumental)

Kimagure ROMANTIC has the ‘Ikomono Gakari happy happy’ beginning before the vocals come in. As usual, Yoshioka does an awesome job on the vocals, but this song seems like every other IG song I’ve heard so far. The instrumentals are very brassy at times, with a drumset keeping the beat and random keyboard entries. At least the harmonica is still there! The song’s too…chirpy and happy for my taste though…

The next song, message, begins with a harmonica solo before the happy happy happy instrumentals and voice come in. Aghhhh, I’m disappointed once again. It’s another IG typical song, with no speciality to it. The harmonica is featured more in here though, and Yoshioka’s voice is a bit stronger here than in the last song.

Overall Rating:
2.5/5

It’s not like it was horrible, but the single was a huge bore for me…

Ikimono Gakari – Kaeritakunatta yo

Release Date: April 16, 2008

Tracklist:

1. Kaeritaku Natta yo
2. Nokori Kaze
3. Kaeritaku Natta yo (Instrumental)
4. Nokori Kaze (Instrumental)

Kaeritaku Natta yo starts off with a lovely piano introduction before the guitar and drums come in accompany it. This song is a mid-tempo ballad, with a beautiful melody line. Yoshioka’s vocals match this song very well, and they are flawless when singing the sweeping melody line of the chorus. It just adds that extra epic power into this song.

I love the beginning of Nokori Kaze! It has this old school rock feeling to it. The melody is definately way edgier than Ikimono Gakari’s usual songs, and is a very fast paced song. It actually reminds of Green Day for some strange reason. It’s almost like a Gundam song, in a way (with all the fast-paced-ness and stuff).

Overall Rating:
4/5

Ikimono Gakari – Planetarium

Release Date: October 15, 2008

Tracklist:

1. Planetarium
2. Happy Smile Again
3. Kaeritakunatta yo (Konnitsuaa!! 2008 LIVE ver.)
4. Planetarium (Instrumental)

As like Otsuka’s Planetarium, Planetarium has a dreamy feel to it, though more upbeat. I miss listening to Yoshioka’s voice, since their singles haven’t been coming out lately. Maybe it’s just me being bored, but I think this song matches the album art quite well; it has a hopeful, forward feeling to it. Noticeably absent from this song is the harmonica (well, it wouldn’t suit the song anyway, but still!). The strong use of the piano sets the mood quite nicely as it compliments the melodic line very nicely (yes, two nicely’s in a sentence is bad grammar, but screw that!).

I love the guitar in Happy Smile Again! This song has a very different opening from their usual songs, but it fades into the background as the usual happy, upbeat melody is presented before the listener. The guitar still steals the show, though Yoshioka’s voice is still as nice as usual. A nice B-side to compliment the A-side, but nothing spectacular.

Kaeritakunatta yo (Konnitsuaa!! 2008 LIVE ver.) is…wow! Yoshioka sounds better live than in the studio! The song itself is quite nicely placed in this single, since it is in the same genre as the previous tracks.

Overall Rating:
4/5

Ikimono Gakari – Ryuusei MIRACLE

Release Date: December 6, 2006

Tracklist:

1. Ryuusei MIRACLE
2. Yuki Yamane Yoru Futari
3. Kaze ni Fukarete
4. Ryuusei MIRACLE (Instrumental)

Ryuusei MIRACLE starts off with a strong beginning, with Yoshioka singing the chorus. Her voice is as strong as always, but I feel as if the background music is a bit too loud, so it covers her a bit. This song is quite typical of Ikimono Gakari, though the melody does prove to be different. It has an upbeat accompaniment, and a hopeful melody line. Lots of energy behind it.

Unlike the previous track, Yuki Yamane Yoru Futari mellows down quite a bit. There are only sparse instrumentals, with the piano being the main accompaniment. It’s nice to hear Yoshioka sing something a bit slower and calmer than the usual Ikimono Gakari music.

We head back into familiar territory with Kaze ni Fukarete. The drumset is featured here, as it is the only accompaniment heard when Yoshioka sings the chorus. I think this is more of a rock song, rather than an Ikimono Gakrai song. I’m glad that the harmonica is in this though, or else it just wouldn’t be Ikimono Gakari! In terms of melody, it is pretty typical, but Yoshioka does pretty well in this, but is still covered by the pounding beats in the background.

Overall Rating:
3/5

Ikimono Gakari – Koisuru Otome

Release Date: October 18, 2006

Tracklist:

1. Koi Suru Otome
2. Nirinka
3. GET CRAZY! -Aki mix version-
4. Koi Suru Otome (Instrumental)

Koi Suru Otome begins with a guitar and piano duet before Yoshioka comes in. I’ve always loved how her voice is sweet, yet has that mature layer under it. It also has a soothing factor in there somewhere. As for the song, Koi Suru Otome has that “Hikari” feeling to it: hopeful and uplifting. I love the a capella part near the end; it send a rather powerful message.

The next song, Nirinka, starts off with a light guitar solo before the verse hits. Yoshioka’s voice is softer and the main focus of the song, as the background fades a bit. Unlike the last track, Nirinka is a bit slower and less energetic. The melody of this song is quite beautiful though. An outstanding track for a B-side.

We get back into more rock music with the last song of the single, GET CRAZY! -Aki mix version-. I’ve never heard the original version, so I’m basing my views of this song on this version. To be truthful, I’m slightly disappointed: it’s mostly loud instrumentals and Yoshioka’s voice is kind of covered by the music. At least the harmonica is still here. The bright is that Mizuno Yoshiki, the band leader, has his own solo here too (he usually sings backup).

Overall Rating:
4.5/5

Ikimono Gakari – HANABI

Release Date: May 31, 2006

Tracklist:

1. HANABI
2. Amai Nigai Jikan
3. Momen no HANKERCHIEF
4. HANABI (Instrumental)

I just realized that HANABI is an ending theme song to the shounen anime, Bleach. No wonder it seemed to familiar! This song is a flamboyant song, with special mentions to the harmonica solos. The chorus’ melody is unique and really catchy (stuck in my head now). Apart from SAKURA, this is my other favourite song from Ikimono Gakari so far. Yoshioka’s vocals are pretty solid here too; she has no problems reaching those higher notes at the beginning.

Next up is Amai Nigai Jikan, a slower pace song than the previous track. This song has a consistent beat, with some laid back guitars in the background. The melody of this song is also quite interesting; it’s very different from the usual J-pop melodies. Yoshioka’s voice seems to be a bit overpowered by the instrumentals though. Another noticable trait about Amai Nigai Jikan is that it is missing the harmonica.

Last up is Momen no HANKERCHIEF, and it starts off with a…weird song. Must be something the synth machine thingy cooked up. Unlike the previous track, this song has a happier tone to it. Momen no HANKERCHIEF is kinda boring though; it’s not a really memorable song.

Overall Rating:
3.5/5