29 November 2015

Johnny's WEST - Paripipo RE album review

Artist: Johnny's WEST
Title: Paripiro
Release date:  2015
Type: mini-album
Version: RE

Packaging: Seeing as the group is on the Johnny's Entertainment label the packaging is on the plain side. There is a front and back jacket with the front jacket being a part of the lyric booklet. The inside of the booklet is pretty plain with the lyrics on white with little stars spread over the page. At the very end there are small solo shots of all the members placed across two pages.

The dancing baby thing that looks to have become the group's mascot makes its debut here on the CD and behind it on the inside facing side of the back jacket. Honestly I could do without it as it just weirds me out. I do rather like the photos used for this release. They convey a lot of fun and energy, or basically a lot of what this group's image is. There are three group shots in total and the solo images I have already mentioned.


1. パリピポアンセム (Paripipo Anthem)
This song is a mess, which actually makes it a good song to sum up this album with. It starts off sounding like it wants to be another fun song like their A-sides tend to be but then add in conflicting elements, like the rap sections, and does several change ups that just do not flow together well. It is almost as if it wants to cover all the sounds of the other tracks on the mini album but seeing as those all do not go together it ends up with a mess as it does not seem to know what it wants to be.

2. Toxic Love
A more standard pop song and one of the stronger tracks on the album. It has a dance pop vibe to it and the chorus is catchy. I do not think I care too much for the first rap section as it grinds everything to a standstill though there definitely needed to be some kind of change up in the song at that part. That and the rap is better incorporated into the song going on from there. That said there is nothing overly stand out about the track though the chorus does help it stop from being forgettable.

3. キミコイ (Kimi Koi)
And this song is where the mini album begins to fall apart. Because after two very pop songs with a dance flavor we have this song. A jazzy big band sounding song that really only has the fact that it is an uptempo song in common with the song before it. Outside of that it is not a bad song at all though it does feel rather paint by numbers in making sure it has everything a song of this genre needs to have. It also lacks an interesting hook so outside of the genre it can be easily over looked.

Then we get a slow tempo song that is nice enough on its own but is yet another jarring switch going from the previous song. And mostly because it is another genre switch as things go back to a more standard pop sound. And standard is a pretty good description of the song as while it is pleasant to listen to there is nothing to hook a listener in. By the time it moves to catch things up it is coming off as a bit dull, especially after repeat listens.

5. アカンLOVE ~純情愛やで~ (Akan LOVE ~Junjo Ai Yade~)
While this is another change up with this being an uptempo high energy song it does not seem too jarring compared to the previous two. Perhaps because it is not such a complete genre change as well. It is a nice way to wake you up again if SCARS was putting you to sleep. It reminds me of the kinds of songs that V6 used to sing during their early years in the early 00s. And not in a bad way at all. The chorus is nice and catchy and the driving beat throughout keeps it going and helps it transition through the change ups in the song.

6. Mambo de WEST!
This song brings the group back to the fun pop songs their A-sides have mostly been. Thankfully it does not sound much like those, which is probably mostly in thanks to the fact they needed to have a mambo sound to it somewhere to live up to the song name. But it is still quite a bit of fun listening to and a nice bright spot on this album.

I had forgotten that this was the first bonus track for the regular edition as it is a nice fit and honestly would have been good to end the album with.

The second bonus track of the regular edition and the one that feels like it was just tacked onto the end of the album because they had no idea where else to put it. This song would have fit much better at the start of the album with the other dance-pop songs and is just jarring at the end where it does not sound like any of the songs near it. Unlike Toxic Love that is more a pop song with dance influence this is more of a full on dance song with an edge to it that the rest of the songs do not have. In fact it feels like a song that Kis-My-Ft2 might have passed on for one of their releases. It is not a bad song but feels out of place with most of the album having it placed at the end as it is.

Overall: This is the release that finally lost me with Johnny's WEST. It is as much a mess as its lead track and is another sign that management has little idea of what to make of the group. I dropped getting Hey! Say! JUMP releases because they have become directionless and with each new release JWest seems to have already facing the same issue. It is like all management knows is that they want them to be like Kanjani8 because they are also from Kansai but without the band element. And it is frustrating as the group has a lot of promise but it is just going to be squandered if they are not given more than that.

For the release itself the few songs I liked just is not enough anymore to keep me interested in what the group is releasing. Though I do think this could have been put together much better if someone wanted to give it a little more effort. Like if Toxic Love was switched with Mambo de WEST! the mini album would have flowed so much better. And it would hardly be the first time bonus tracks were inserted in the middle of an album track list for the group as their debut album did so. Which makes it infuriating that the producer of this album did not think of doing something so simple.

One of the nice things about this mini-album is that at least the songs do not sound like clones of what they have released before. Unfortunately the general lack of cohesion of the tracks really drags it down.

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