Interest in singer/songwriter Kenshi Yonezu’s forthcoming album BOOTLEG is boiling over in Japan. He’s been on the rise for the last few years, but 2017 has felt like Yonezu being firmly established as a central voice in a new generation of Japanese pop music, whether on rockers such as “Peace Sign” or on dystopian-tinged electro-pop cuts made under his Vocaloid alias Hachi.
HIs latest sneak peek into that album has already proven a winner, after appearing on YouTube late last night, it’s the top-trending clip in the country. Ahead of that Star Wars trailer! Check the music video out below.
Titled “Haiiro To Ao,” the song stands as the first real ballad of the BOOTLEG album cycle thus far, as long as you assume the forthcoming self-cover of his and DAOKO’s “Uchiage Hanabi” doesn’t really count (it’s technically more her song!). It’s a slowly unfolding number pushed forward by acoustic guitar strumming sounding tender enough to be the in-store soundtrack for Hallmark. Yonezu is joined by the actor Masaki Suda, who looks a little better in the clip than he sounds on it. Fittingly, the focus really falls on Yonezu, whose voice tilts the aching lyrics into something extra intriguing, especially on the softer verses.
While “Haiiro To Ao” hits most of the hallmarks of a standard ballad, many of the small musical details stand out and remind of Yonezu’s greatest strength; his eye for clever twists in song construction. It comes almost entirely on the verses, which feature subtle vocal harmonising backing up all that strumming, as wild as a drum beat replicating a heartbeat in the way it takes a few seconds to finish itself.
Whether fans are equally as charmed as I am by the tiny details, or are more gaga for the chorus, “Haiiro To Ao” confirms that “BOOTLEG” is going to be the fall’s biggest J-pop release. Look for more info around November 1, when it arrives.
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