It always sounds presumptuous and conniving when someone tells you that an album will ‘need multiple spins to truly appreciate’, but Hirone-chan‘s subtle, gorgeous and mysterious third LP “Yume no Yume” fits that bill perfectly. It’s not so much in that it’s ‘strange’ or ‘weird’; it’s that it shows so much growth and maturity over her previous works that it’s almost like listening to a different artist.
However, the way she shows this growth isn’t through a massive change in sound, it, instead shows it through the most subtle ways that really do need multiple listens to fully reveal themselves. It’s labyrinthine in it’s complexity, yet constantly approachable and pop in the broadest sense. It’s a career-developing step forward for the artist, and it’s striking lack of fanfare doing so will make it one of the most revisited albums of 2017.
Hirone-Chan’s albums have always been a bit on the fluttery side; enjoyable but never really strong enough to leave a lasting impression. With this third album however, all the doubt has been put aside and she has touched a level of quality untouched before. This is a much more refined work, with a lot of detail and care put into its fleeting length. Hirone-chan seems determined to etch her own path, alongside rather than with the generation of ‘alt-girls’ she is generally lumped with.
One of the most notable things Hirone-chan has accomplished here is how encapsulated her little world of “Yume no Yume” is; it feels like any slight change would bring it all crashing down on itself. A great amount of thought has been put into the delicate structure of the album and there isn’t a single track that seems out of place or unneeded. It creaks and floats along like a beautiful old ship, that is truly adored by it’s captain.
Hirone-chan has also lifted her vocal game tenfold for this album. Where she usually gave a decent, workable performance, she now is highly emotive and pushes the songs to a much higher, harder hitting level. She’s still cute as ever but now seems to have found her calling; and it’s exiting as hell to experience.
Musically, it’s a very pretty experience. Hirone-chan has somewhat dropped the electronic part of her music (there are still a few samples and loops in play) for a more natural, jazzy experience. It has expanded her signature sound quite dramatically, with interesting chord changes and time signatures not unlike more experimental music strewn throughout; but most importantly, still somehow manages to stay in that cute pop sphere the entire time. Not to let her backing band go to waste, there are two absolutely gorgeous instrumental pieces here that sit perfectly behind the two singles of the album- which also happen to be the most breathtaking, theatrical songs on the album.
Whether it be the two singles “Omoidasenai Yume Mitai ni” or “Yokusou Plankton“; with their sweeping, gorgeous choruses or more jazzy, sweet moments like “Wonder Tender” or “Slow Parade”, every song has something lovely to offer to the listener. The latter half of the album offers more delicate, minimal tracks that showcase Hirone-chan’s ability to capture the listener’s attention without the need of a backing band or glitzy production.
In the end, Hirone-chan has ultimately offered up a truly wonderful piece of Jpop pie; one that you will no doubt be begging for a second slice as soon as you’re finished with the first slice. Essential listening and will likely end up in this reviewers top 10 of 2017 this year. Get on it.
9/10 Hirone-chan’s Yume no Yume is the first album that Hirone-chan truly feels like her own artist, and she shines because of it. Just make sure you listen to it a few times to let it really sink in.