06 November 2015

NEWS - White LE/RE album review

Limited Edition
Artist: NEWS
Title: White
Release date: 25 February 2015
Type: Limited Edition & Regular Edition

Regular Edition
Packaging: The packaging for this release reflects the title of the album and most of it is in black and white with the focus being on the white. In fact the only color in any of the two versions is restrained to two group photos at the back of the limited edition booklet.

The regular edition is the more basic of the two with the bonus for that version being the solo songs on the CD. Each member of the group gets two solo black and white photos then there is one group photo at the very back. The only other group shot is the cover, but they are facing away from the camera in that one.

The limited edition not only has the two only color photos, which are both taken from the set of the movie short included on the DVD, but also has a bit more photos in general. Each member gets three solo photos, the first being a close up then the other two look like solo shots from the jacket shooting. It also has three balck and white group shots, one for the cover, the back of the booklet as well as the back of the CD. Other than that there is a bonus sticker that it comes with, but it is rather plain with a "Team White" on the top and "NEWS" at the bottom with the "W" of the album centered in the middle.

Tracks*:

1. MR. WHITE
A nice high energy pop song to start the album with and it is used as the theme song for the short movie included on the DVD for the limited edition version of the album. I love the horns in this that do well as accents to the rest of the song. Even though it clocks just under three minutes it does not feel like it is too short and any longer would probably make it feel like it is being dragged out.

2. KAGUYA
The first single track of three that is on this album. I have already reviewed this track with the review for the single which can be found here. For its place on the album it actually has a nice flow from MR. WHITE to NYARO. Even though all three songs have their own sounds that keep them distinct they all have a strong prominent beat that goes through them that helps transition between them when listening through the album.

3. NYARO
This song was used as a commercial tie-in before the album was released so it was not completely new to NEWS fans before the album was released. It is a summer themed song and being written by the same composer as MR. WHITE and SEVEN COLORS it fits well where it was placed on the album. It has an instrument that features prominently in the chorus and at the start that I cannot place but it sounds something like an electronic fiddle. The verses are more talk-sing with the chorus having more of a melody to it. The chorus is rather catchy too and makes it a rather nice song to listen to and another to be added to the group's list of summer themed songs.

4. SEVEN COLORS
The second single track but the only one that was not a title track. This was a B-side on the single for ONE -for the win- but it was one of the songs used to promote a soccer event. I have already reviewed the track with the rest of the single it was one here. With song the sound of the album starts to transition to break away from the beat heavy songs at the start.

5. Weather NEWS
Another energetic song that keeps the energy from the previous song going. Every member gets a portion of a verse to sing solo as they sing the chorus together like usual. I was happy with Kato Shigeaki getting the rap portion of the song, his voice is a good fit for that even though it gets distorted a bit for the section. But overall a solid song from the group.

6. SuperSONIC
A bit more electronic in sound than the rest and not as energetic as the previous two tracks. That said it comes off as a stronger song to me with a catchier chorus than the previous track. The little touches of dubstep in it works nicely as it remains just hints here and there so it never comes close to being overdone.

7. Black Jack -Inter.-
As the "Inter." suggests this is an intermission. A much needed one to bridge between SuperSONIC and BYAKUYA as there is very little similar between the two songs. This intermission though mixes the more electronic sound of SuperSONIC to meld into the more theatrical sound of BYAKUYA well.

8. BYAKUYA
I adore this song. Nothing on this album sounds like it, in fact nothing NEWS has done before really sounds like this. It just has this epic sound to it and could easily be translated to a stage production with how dramatic it sounds with the added chorus singers for parts the chorus. It starts off so softly and hauntingly to just build from there with the energy and strength of the chorus. The lull around the three minute mark works well with the theatrical sound to this song as it contrasts to the chorus.

9. ONE -for the win-
The third single track on the album. I reviewed this earlier in the year with the rest of the single that you can find here. They probably could have used another transitional piece between it and BYAKUYA as it is a bit jarring to go from something like that song to a high energy pop song.

10. White Love Story
This song takes the album into its slow tempo section. I love the final lines of the chorus and overall it is a sweet straight forward love song. I am surprised with how much I have come to love the song since it does not do anything special or standout but it is just overall put together well. It is just pleasant to listen to.

11. Ai Kotoba
The final group song on the album is one that all the members of the group wrote together. They wrote it with the group's 10th anniversary in mind and the lyrics reflect that by summing up feelings of the members of making it to that milestone. It is definitely a song for fans of the group and as a fan I of course love it for the feelings it brings out with the lyrics. Not sure if a non-fan would care much for it as it is a simple slow tempo song but again this is really for fans of the group above all else.

12. Romeo 2015 (Koyama Keiichiro solo)
A latin flavored song that for the verses stay on the soft side then kicks things up a notch for the chorus. It fits in well with the kind of solo songs Koyama tends to do and sounds like it would fit with the songs from NEWS first few years. It does not leave a strong impact for me and I do tend to forget it the most out of all the solos on the album.

13. Skye Beautiful (Masuda Takahisa solo)
This is my favorite solo from this album. I adore that it goes from something so soft and tender sounding to the EDM segments that are bursting with energy and back and forth a few times before reaching the end. It is definitely a song that lets Massu's vocals shine while set to let him show off his dance skills when he performs it live. This song just seems perfect for him and I just love it, even the short rap section.

14. Anata (Tegoshi Yuya solo)
Tegoshi goes for a ballad for his solo and does well with it as he avoids the over singing he is prone to do for the most part. There are a couple of times near the end he sounds a little shouty when he is just forcing his vocals a bit too much but they are quickly over to move to the softer ending lines. As he has one of the stronger voices in the group this does well to show that off.

15. ESCORT (Kato Shigeaki solo)
I never feel sure what to think of Shige's falsetto but it seems to work well enough with this song that has a jazzy feel to it. And thankfully he does not try to sing the entire song in it or anything extreme like that. The chorus of the song is strong but I think I love the rap segment and verses the most. But Shige's solos have been a bit hit or miss for me in recent years and I would consider this one to be more hit than miss even though it is not a favorite.

*This is the RE track listing, the LE has everything but the solos on the CD that it came with.

DVD:

The bonus for the album is a short movie (the full run time is about 23 minutes) that Shige wrote that uses the song Mr. White as its theme song. Mr. White is also the title of the movie.

 It basically has the members of the group be a special unit that can fight against dark figures that snatch children after they get sucked into computers.

Quite a bit of the movie is done with no or very little dialogue so it makes it easy for someone who does not know Japanese to be able to follow. There are a few things having what is spoken would help with but the basics are easy enough to pick up on.

One thing that really distracted me with the short movie is that during one of the scenes it suddenly switches to animation. No reason seems to be given so I have to guess they needed to save money and could afford animation better than what effects they would have needed to do it in live action. But again it is distracting, especially as there is no animation used prior to this one scene.

The DVD also has making of footage for the film. This is definitely something that a translation is best if you want to follow what is being talked about. From the start where they have Shige talking about the movie in the early production phase I could catch him bringing up Ghostbusters as an inspiration though and it is easy to see in the final product.

I always enjoy being able to look behind the scenes for movies and such so I was happy to see it was part that and not just the guys talking to the camera about it.

There were some fun moments that we got to see of the guys goofing around a bit with things on the set and such. One of the more entertaining moments was seeing Tegoshi go after Massu with a creepy looking stuffed cat.

This feature did come off as being a bit Shige heavy, but that probably was most likely because he had a greater hand in the production of the short movie being the writer. So out of all the members he just naturally had more to say about it. And past that every member had some time focused on them.


Overall: While the packaging feels lacking for both versions the songs help make up for it. It has a good flow to it and there is no song that I dislike. Of course there are a only a couple that I love but everything else I enjoy still. It comes off as a solid album for the group and I look forward to the next one for them.

I never expected much from the movie attached to this so I did not mind it was rather simple. Still that animated part pulled it all down for me as the animation came off looking cheap as well. So while I could forgive cheap visual effects with the live action it is harder for me to do so with animation.

So a rather solid release from the group with some little things here and there standing out but most of it is rather standard. So a must get for fans of the group, though unless you really want to own the DVD with the movie just picking up the regular edition would be fine.

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