Album review: Capsule - Wave Runner

Album review: Capsule - Wave runner | Random J Pop

After CAPS LOCK and what some may have seen as a mediocre run of singles from Perfume and Pussy Pam, there were equal feelings of scepticism and intrigue at the thought of a new Capsule album. Nakata Yasutaka's sound seemed unfocused and he seemed to be strongly influenced by what was being produced around him. Something of which would not have been a big deal if Nakata were a producer who had a reputation for being influenced by anything that anybody does. But here we are, with an EDM album.

Something to take note of with Wave Runner is that it is a grower. On a first listen the songs seem run of the mill. But upon repeated listens Nakata's distinct production style shines through, reminding you why you kinda fell in love with him in the first place.

Nataka has to be commended for his production skills and managing to keep songs interesting from start to finish. Several songs on this album switch completely in ways you would never see coming. "Dreaming Boy" goes from a light ethereal sonet to club filth. "White as Snow" starts off as a banger and then switches into a ballad before revoking that shit and giving you mo' banger. Nakata brilliantly manages to switch back and forth between styles, but never do the songs feel as though they are being interrupted; something which he failed to do on some of his prior works such as his remix of Kylie Minogue's "Into the Blue" and Perfume's "Ijiwaru na Hello".

After Toshiko received no phone calls from Nakata to participate in the recording of CAPS LOCK, she has been brought back into the fold part-time for Wave Runner. Toshiko's presence is very much felt on this album and it is a pleasant welcome. Toshiko's vocals are pretty indistinct and if you have listened to Nakata's music before, then you will be familiar with the ways in which females sound on his songs. Shrill, like Chipmunks, all the same. In this instance it really doesn't hamper the songs. The focus is the music and Toshiko's generic vocals lends itself well to EDM. Although on another hand I do feel as though this album would have worked nicely has Nakata peppered it with guest features as per Calvin Harris and M-Flo. His collaborations with Crystal Kay, Sheena Ringo and his amazing remix of Kylie Minogue's "Get outta my way" really gave me a taste for as such. But exploring collaborations is probably part of why Nakata has branched off as a solo act, to entertain this separately from Capsule.

What I like about this album is that its conception is fuelled by the exact same thing that fuelled CAPS LOCK, which is that Nakata did the album he wanted to do and that it is consistent. But whilst Wave Runner is a solid EDM album, it's a pretty sub-par Capsule album. I'd argue if this album is for old time Capsule fans at all. The overall style of this album perhaps isn't the biggest shock off the back of World of fantasy and Stereo Worxxx. But it does make you wonder what Nakata truly sees Capsule as ultimately. Between his work for Perfume, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Nastume Mito and his own solo material, Nakata doesn't seem to know where to draw the lines and as a result his productions just melt into the same pot of sounds. "Unrequited Love" is a melody away from sounding like a Perfume song. Sound-wise it's cut from the same cloth as "Pick Me Up". But then the Perfume's Relax In the City / Pick Me Up B-side "Toumei Ningen" sounds like a Wave Runner leftover. There's no truly definable distinction between the sounds Nakata dishes out. And with Wave Runner, he's thrown Capsule into that same pot too. The only difference with this Capsule offering is that it holds a level of sonic consistency and quality that his work on Perfume's Cosmic Explorer and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's Pika Pika Fantajin lacked.

Wave Runner is a good album for what it is. But when its said and done, there's not much that sticks and there's very little if anything to go back to. Wave Runner doesn't feel as though it has any real purpose other than to be an EDM album for EDM's sake, which is fine. But then make sure you give me a fucking amazing EDM album. Not something we can go to Zedd and Madeon for, who had already given shit like this.

VERDICT: At least Toshiko's back

■ Dreaming Boy 🔥
■ Unrequited Love 🏆
■ White As Snow
■ Beyond the Sky 🔥