|Nov 23, 2011
|1. My Dearest
|3. Dai Hinmin
|4. My Dearest (TV Edit)
|5. My Dearest -Instrumental-
|6. Tsumibito -Instrumental-
|7. Dai Hinmin -Instrumental-
|8. My Dearest (TV Edit) -Instrumental-
Review: If it’s one thing that gets fans of a band riled up, it’s the replacement of a member. Ryo and his brainchild supercell found themselves on the wrong end of that anger when they suddenly ousted the much-loved Nagi in favor of fresh-faced newcomer Koeda, an ire strengthened by the revelation that she was naught but 15 years old. But it seems fans were jumping the gun. While it’s a stretch to say that Koeda is an outright improvement over Nagi, overall, the new voice is a welcome change. Nagi’s clean, open vocals were always elegantly, inscrutably delivered but could come off as a bit sterile and shallow. Koeda’s voice is a bit more nasal and brash, but more emotive, robust, and deep.
Perhaps it was a proactive measure on ryo’s part, then, that he changed around his vocalist, because his songwriting hasn’t evolved as much as it has interbred and mutated. Ryo has always been about big, obvious melodies supported by big, obvious chords, and while this is by no means bad, I can’t help but feel he has stagnated a bit as a composer. Everything he has released thus far seemed to brim with newness and imagination; that said, this single never outright offends but fails to surprise. The innovative, plucky indie spirit that made him famous (and me, a fan) has faded somewhat, and that is concerning, if not truly lamentable.
That’s not to say there’s nothing to like here. This single, like many of its ilk, is one that rides on the strength of its title track, “My Dearest.” Stylistically, it seems to be the culmination of every songwriting trope Ryo has used thus far in his career as supercell. It’s very much a concentrated, refined distillation of every sound supercell has become known for: heavy emphasis on piano, sweeping strings, broad, echoing backup vocals, fat, proud chord changes, generic (if highly capable) rock drumming, techno elements, a sappy electric guitar solo. All of this forms the espresso of supercell, in all its cheesy, po-faced, self-serious glory.
But, like many a Japanese car, it’s not necessarily what goes into it that makes it good, it’s how it’s assembled. There was a lot of attention paid to the way the song’s many components (vocals, acoustic instruments, electric instruments, synthesizer tones, filtered acoustic instruments) came together. The arrangement here is truly special in a deeply impressive way. There is an amazing sensitivity as to what instruments are playing and how much they’re playing at what volume. Even with so many individual instruments at play, no single voice becomes needlessly neglected or annoyingly overbearing. The reintroduction of an element is always meaningful and serves some sort of purpose. If you find yourself liking this song, remember this: it’s not the composing you’re being impressed by, it’s the arrangement.
As for most fans’ point of contention, as I addressed, Koeda in “My Dearest” is competent as to be a non-issue. She doesn’t try to sound like Nagi and thus sounds nothing like Nagi and sounds just fine not sounding like Nagi.
Sometimes though, I do wish she would sound a bit more like Nagi, especially on the B-side. B-sides tend to be afterthoughts in the world of singles, and this isn’t much of an exception. The weaker composing here on these tracks combined with some grating emotive attempts by Koeda mean I can’t recommend these numbers in good conscience. Koeda’s delivery sounds a bit too forced in both these tunes; “Dai Hinmin” in particular rubs me the wrong way. It almost makes me hearken for Nagi’s more honest inflection, but I’ll call Koeda’s performance on this b-side simply passable and write off these annoyances as the quirks of a first impression.
Guilty Crown OP – My Dearest