Album review: Perfume - JPN

Perfume - JPN | Album review

A realization came for many last year that Perfume's album (whenever it planned on releasing) would be a bit of a big deal. It would clutch hair pieces in its bare hands and have bitches running to a temple shrine for a prayer that their career can withstand hit single after hit single with 3 girls sporting a musical and visual consistency I've not seen this air tight since the f**king Spice girls. These girls can't sing, they're not thb est dancers and they're not the best performers. But when you have a team behind you who have a clear vision with a sight set on it with laser accuracy, you end up being Perfume and dropping albums like JPN. And then there's Kashiyuka's hair, Nocchi's legs and A-chan's smile which has the power to cure cancer.

The pressure on JPN would always be placed on either whether the new songs could match up to the near perfection of the singles which make up the majority of this album and would go on to define it. Or...if the new material would exhibit any form of growth than the non religious fans felt the singles did not provide. It's difficult to call, because the production on this album is so amazing that you find yourself admiring the effort and sheet talent of Yasutaka's work, but perhaps not necessarily like the song as a song. And the songs which are good are killer. But the most striking thing which hits you about JPN, is that despite a string of wholly solid singles, JPN just doesn't hit you square between the eyes as you may have thought it would at some point last year whilst you were trying to perfect the footwork in the "Nee" video in front of your bedroom mirror or scouring YouTube for a full version of the "Laser beam" video back in May. It's all a bit strange.

In order to remove any form of inevitable segregation between album and single tracks that we'd tag the songs with, Yasutaka addresses this from the start by easing you into an ambient intro which then segues into  the beloved "Laser beam". But this is not the same" Laser beam" you had heard back in May of '11. It's a new album mix. It loses a couple of the single versions key sections, such as its telephone operator style intro and post bridge build into the chorus. But the new melodic additions put a cool spin on the song. Yasutaka chops and stutters the absolute shit out of the post chorus sections in a way which cements his position as one of the best knob twiddlers in the music biz right now. "Laser beam" was a great song in May. It's still great now. Yasutaka is a beast. Kill yo'self.

Those hating on old singles - 0. JPN - 1

The 3 minutes of perfection which is "Laser beam" then mixes straight into "Glitter", the most recent and final JPN single. The album mix of "Glitter" unfortunately doesn't work such wonders on the A+ original. It pains me to admit that the album mix taints the original and leaves a nasty taste in my mouth like Wasabi. The album mix plays around with the structure of the single version far too much and butcher the conventional song structure of the single version which made it a perfect pop song. As with "Laser beam" Yasutaka throws in some new melodic passages, arrangements and completely new key changes. A killer 90's chord section gives the album mix an intro just as epic as the single version. But it's all downhill once that shit stops. The song feels so badly structured that the end result is a song which feels as though it was messed with too much and unnecessarily so. If Yasutaka's intention was to spin the song into a version which would play better in the clubs then he succeeded. I admire the effort and it's cool to have an alternative mix, which some are bound to prefer. But in my world, the single version is far superior.

"Natural ni koishite" stuck out as one of Perfume's singles due to its raw sound and its easy breezy 'n loose concept music video. And amongst all of the other songs on JPN it sticks out no less. Despite the utter over use of auto-tune up and down the track, the girls' charm still comes through. I could be imagining it or be completely sprung on this song because of how good it is. But it exhibits a sense of playful personability which you didn't always get with the Perfume singles which came before.

"My color" at some point had to have been considered as a single, because it slots in so nicely with all of the JPN singles. And quite frankly, it sounds like a f**king smash hit. It has such a bright summative vibe about it, that it should have closed the album and would have bookended it nicely. "Nee", "Voice" and "Fushizen na girl" are all as fly as they were when they were originally released as singles back in 2010. In fact, they all sound better and I'm not quite sure why or how. "Kokoro no sports" is the JPN contender for a concert encore. The chorus demands that you link arms with somebody and sway as you scream the chorus to the song, meanwhile Perfume are standing on stage being showered in sparks as confetti gets blasted around the arena. These bitches know what time it is.

"Kasuka na kaori" and "Kokoro no sports" (shockingly) places an emphasis on Perfume's vocals. We're not talking acapella's and beat drops. But in comparison to the rest of the album, there is a real sense of dialing down for the sake of allowing Pefume to actually sing. Of course, Yasutaka crams the sections where the girls aren't singing with all manner of musical wizadry, kick ass melodies, rhythms and everything to keep the levels of the song high after Perfume's vocals having it drop like the performance gauge of a one armed two-fingered hobo playing Rock band. I love me some "Kokoro no sports". But "Kasuka na kaori" is forgettable J-dramas credit roll fodder.

Those hating on old singles - 0. JPN - 0 (point deduction)

The majority of the album is tailored for the girls to put on heels, fly asymmetrical printed dresses and dance like the future of their lives depend on it. But Yasutaka slows things down on a couple (literally two) moments. "575" is Perfume's equivalent of a slow jam. A really nice, spaced out, mellow song. And the girls even spit some bars on it. Their flow won't have Jay-Z throwing in the towel, but they sound a damn earshot better than most dudes in the rap game right now. Souja boy for one can go sit down. "Toki no hari" is the weakest song on the album. If there was ever a piece of evidence arguing the case as to why Perfume should always be auto-tuned and sandwiched between layers of synths, bass lines, whizzes and warbles, it's this song. The whole thing sounds like a cross between a Disney toy soldier march and BBC's Songs of praise on a Sunday.

JPN is a good album. It's a solid album. But not an amazing album and one which will be defined by the singles it included, rather than a body of work. Despite Perfume's vocals still sounding like Hatsune Miku on helium and down right annoying, they at least have more of a presence on this album. And the strong image of Perfume which was brilliantly perpetuated in each of the singles' artworks and music videos gives many of the songs a real identity. But at this point I can't help wonder what the next step for Perfume is musically. Whilst JPN is much more refined, accessible and radio friendly as a whole than their past efforts, it doesn't exhibit much growth. And with Perfume having such a set defined style, you do wonder what their next evolutionary step is and if there is one at all. I like these bitches, so I'll believe there is one...although in the back of my mind I wonder.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Album highlights:
■ Laser beam (Album mix) J's fave
■ Natural ni koishite
■ My color
■ Voice
■ Kokoro no sports
■ Fushizen na girl
■ Spice


  1. Yeah, I feel you with this album. It could've been better. I actually want another "Triangle" album. It may have sounded like it should've just stayed with capsule, but it's one of the hottest sounding albums they have.

  2. They can dance and sing very well. There are songs on this album in which there is no autotune. If you look it up on youtube, you can find videos of their live vocals. So please don't make these assumptions...


HTML tags for bold, italic and hyperlinks are allowed