An Cafe’s Highly Anticipated Mini-Album, Amazing Blue
Has there been a more eagerly awaited mini-album all year? Following a two year hiatus, the Kings of Harajuku Dance Rock and Oshare-kei, An Cafe, are back with Amazing Blue, a mini-album that zings with fun, verve and that inimitable “Nyappy” spirit.
“Amazing Blue” is a high energy mix with something of a video game feeling; a plethora of stuttering synths and cosmic trails of notes. Musically it isn’t much of a departure from their traditions–the chorus has a very familiar pre-hiatus An Cafe about it–a concrete statement that the group are back and that they haven’t lost their touch.
An Cafe all but excel on this album. Every song is well balanced with miku’s vocals clear throughout and no element of the instrumentals overpowering the compositions. They are still good at pop, the girlish “Blooming –saku-” skips along with a light drumbeat and summery sound while “Clouds over moon, wind on flowers” has a real toe-tapper of a chorus. The title is like something straight out of a Chinese poem and fittingly the song has a distinctly oriental feel to the melody. The contrast between the parts of the song is interesting too as miku’s vocals lilt gently over the soft piano of the verses before synthesising it up into the infectious pop chorus.
In contrast to the pop, An Cafe show that they can still rock when required to with the grungier “Self Instruction Manual” and “You-know-who K Mental Clinic.” In “Self Instruction Manual,” yuuki’s bright, spacey synths are counterbalanced by some snarling guitars from takuya. Both tracks maintain the dance-rock/pop electronics the band are known for but tempered by a heavier attitude. Meanwhile, the unusually titled, “You-know-who K Mental Clinic” is full of short, heavy moments that play into the hands of a livehouse setting–expect bodies being flung furiously over bars during this one!
Not all the pieces hum with such pizzazz; while a nicely composed effort, “Bird’s Tragedy” reaches for too much of the faux sentimentality of a bland J-pop ballad. The melody is pretty but quite boring and miku’s vocals start to grate a bit without other interesting things going on. Generally speaking, his vocals sound thinner than before but with the exception of “Bird’s Tragedy” this isn’t really an impediment as his tone is well suited to the sugar-rush pop portions of the mini-album.
Amazing Blue closes with “End of Summer,” another rather sentimental piece. While the composition is fairly pedestrian, it does have some whimsically folk moments to pep it up and the strummed acoustic guitar, so reminiscent of warm summer days, adds a nostalgic sense. “End of Summer” makes for a gentle and pleasant finale, giving closure to the album.
The current An Cafe theme is “Pirates” as a reflection of their separate “voyages” over the past two years. This theme is not overtly reflected in the album though, apart from the title song “Amazing Blue.” Instead, the group have focussed on quirky pop melodies that bring their personalities to the fore and will surely confirm their place back in the heart of their fans. Amazing Blue is a super mini album and one not to be missed by anyone who loves a bit of fun.
Limited Edition: 7 track CD + DVD
Regular Edition: 7 track CD
- Amazing Blue
- Bird’s Tragedy
- Self Instruction Manual
- Clouds over moon, wind on flowers
- You-know-who K Mental Clinic
- End of Summer