Upon launch of the album trailer for VIVI de VAVI de LOVE, the prospect of the latest offering from Wakusei Abnormal was quite grim. The trailer really had turned this listener (and many others) off. However, surprisingly, upon listening to the mini album as a whole- well, it’s surprisingly tolerable. Hell, it’s quite enjoyable in the right mood. It’s hard to deny the flair that’s there. It’s nice to be proven wrong by something in a good way- and this really does that. There are more than a few problems with the record, yes, but on the whole, it’s more enjoyable than imagined.
Let’s start with the record itself. The opening track and lead single “LET IT DIE ~Toki wo Kakeru Koroshiya~” was something I admittedly LOATHED upon first hearing. The absolute potential the opening has with it’s brilliant electronic beat and maniacal keys lead up to… nothing. It’s generic as it gets. However, for whatever reason, it works quite well as part of the mini album as a whole. Most other tracks are the same kind of deal. Nothing stands out or sets the world on fire- but there are bits and pieces that are quite interesting. Hell, there’s fleeting moments that just sound inspired, like the delightful horn section on “Starlight Marriage“, or the absolutely adorable and beautiful “NAGUSAME NIGHT” that is easily the strongest track on the record, probably due to it’s more straightforward nature in comparison to the rest of the more busy tracks.
Production wise it’s a bright, bubbly record, to a fault. The sound here is not so much cute, just bright and bouncy. You know that chipper coworker that you appreciate when the time is right but absolutely loathe when it’s not? It’s that. There’s quite a bit of notable clipping, and it’s unfortunately very distracting in the louder moments. A shame really because with some tweaking it could sound really refreshing and pretty. Instrumental work, while never breathtaking, is tight enough, there’s a lot of little flutters of sound that become more noticeable on repeat listening. It’s certainly a more interesting offering than their meek previous mini album “Kokoro-Koko-Ni “, and it has some actually surprising tracks that were really played down in previews before. The mini album flows along quite well (this said, the biggest blunder here is ending the mini with two needless and completely forgettable remixes), and ultimately that’s the mini’s strongest element- it’s cohesiveness, not so much the tracks themselves.
This all leads to the question that likely plagues a lot of Wakusei Abnormal fan’s minds these days- WHAT exactly is their sound? Who is this aimed at? It seems that as they progress, the further and further they depart from that extraordinary, heart pounding rock of their debut and settle into this bubbly, high sheen world of marshmallow clouds and dreamy pink- while it’s definitely a turn off for many- it’s quite good to see that at least there seems to be a pattern to it all now; that they’re finally settling with something.
A focus on expanding this sound will likely do them a world of good, and while they will never be seen as the cool new edgy rock band we thought they were, at least they can still stand out in a different way. Whether or not fans will return to take the bait is another question, and it will be interesting to see how this finally sits among their listeners.
6/10– Wakusei Abnormal‘s latest is not quite the disaster the trailer made it sound like. Fans might want to pick this one up after all.