Album review: Perfume - JPN

Album review: Perfume - JPN | Random J Pop

A realisation came for many last year that Perfume's album (whenever it planned on releasing) would be a bit of a big deal. Perfume were delivering a musical and visual consistency I've not seen this air tight since the Spice Girls. These girls are not the best singers and to some they may not be the best dancers. But when you've got a team behind you who have a clear vision and a sight set on it with laser accuracy, this is clo you end up like Perfume and dropping albums like JPN. And then there's Kashiyuka's hair, Nocchi's legs and a-chan's smile.

The pressure on JPN would always be placed on either whether the new songs could match up to the quality 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 that the non-religious fans felt the singles did not provide. It's difficult to call, because the production on this album is so good that you find yourself admiring the effort and sheet talent of Nakata Yasutaka's work, but not necessarily liking some of the songs as just songs. The songs on JPN which are good are killer. But the most striking thing about JPN is that despite coming after a string of wholly solid singles and featuring these singles, the album just doesn't hit they way you would have thought it would back during last year, whilst you were trying to perfect the footwork to "Nee" or scouring YouTube for a full version of the "Laser beam" video back. It's all a bit strange.

There is some effort taken to try and present JPN as 'an album' and not just a collection of singles with a few other songs. We get an ambient intro which then segues into "Laser beam". But this is not the same "Laser beam" you had heard back in May 2011. It's a new album mix. It loses a couple of the defining moment of the single version, such as its telephone operator style intro and post bridge build into the chorus. But the new breakdowns are cool. 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 business right now. "Laser beam" was great as a single. It's still great in its album mixed variant. Although an A+ version of "Laser Beam" would be one which fuses the single and album versions together.

Those hating on old singles - 0. JPN - 1

"Laser beam" then mixes straight into "Glitter", the most recent and final JPN single. The album mix of "Glitter" unfortunately doesn't deliver the same magic as the single version. The album mix plays around with the song in too many unnecessary ways. Part of the charm of "Glitter" was how simple and straight-forward it was. The album mix by comparison just feels too complicated and like stuff was added to it, just for the sake of it. As with "Laser beam" Yasutaka throws in some new melodic passages, arrangements and different progressions. The one part of the album mix which is great is in the intro. But it's all downhill after that. If Yasutaka's intention was to spin the song into a version which would play better in the clubs then he succeeded. I guess. It's cool to have an alternative mix to "Glitter" for those who want it, but the single version is far superior and would have better suited the album.

Album review: Perfume - JPN | Random J Pop

"Natural ni koishite" stuck out as one of Perfume's singles due to its raw sound and its easy breezy music video. And amongst all of the other songs on JPN it sticks out no less. Despite the utter overuse of auto-tune up and down the track, Perfume's 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 playfulness and personality which I 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. It has such a bright and positive vibe about it and a resolute ending, that it should have closed the album. It would have been the most ideal book-end. "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. The album version of "Fushizen na girl" is slightly longer and features a couple of changes here and there, but nothing major. Some may not even notice them. "Kokoro no sports" is the JPN contender for a concert encore. The chorus is soft, yet also rousing. It's not hard to imagine fans fist pumping in unison whilst Perfume are stood on stage being showered in sparks as confetti gets blasted around the arena. 

"Kasuka na kaori" and "Kokoro no sports" (shockingly) places an emphasis on Perfume's vocals. We're not talking acapellas and beat drops. But in comparison to the rest of the album, the lack of auto-tune is very noticeable. Of course, Yasutaka crams the sections where the girls aren't singing with all manner of musical wizardry to keep everything locomotive and vibrant. I like 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, asymmetrical printed dresses and dance like the future of their lives depend on it. But Yasutaka still slows things down on a couple of songs. "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. "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. It's bad. But at least it's really short. But it also should have been left off the album.

Album review: Perfume - JPN | Random J Pop

JPN is an album 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 at times, they at least have more of a presence on this album than they did on Game and Triangle. And the strong visuals in each of the singles' artworks and music videos gives many of the songs a real identity and push more of the personalities of Perfume to the forefront. But at this point I can't help wonder what the next step for Perfume is musically. Whilst JPN is more pop and radio friendly than their past efforts, it doesn't exhibit much growth. And the sound is far more varied than Game and Triangle to a point that some fans may feel this album says less about who Perfume even are. The visuals are focused. But the sound, not as much. So where do Perfume go from here?


Album highlights:
■ Laser beam (Album mix) ★ J's fave
■ Natural ni koishite 🔥
■ 575 🔥
■ 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...


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