That’s right, get your hankies out– then again, perhaps an umbrella might be a more appropriate tool with which to arm oneself when approaching October ’09s release from the girugamesh gang: Crying Rain.
Although I may be a little late in the game reviewing this 3 months after its release on October 7th, I would say that it is never too late to sing the praises of girugamesh’s latest single. Following high-powered singles Border and Alive, it hardly came as a surprise to me to find out that their final single for 2009 would be a straight up ballad.
Crying Rain is a compact single with only two songs on the limited edition, and 3 on the regular edition (the regular ed. extra song is called Nitro ’09). Strangely enough, neither editions include instrumental tracks, so there will be no impassioned, air-guitar-wielding, head-banging giru karaoke-ing of this one. — A bit of a disappointment, considering both title-song and b-side are extremely catchy.
The single opens with the title song, moody ballad Crying Rain. The vocal melody is strong from the very beginning, laid over some lightly strummed guitar, faint hints of turn-table mixing, a vaguely hip-hopish rhythm, and–yup, got it– a softly spoken rap piece put into the first verse. The immediate effect is soft, mellow, and quite polished. Satoshi’s vocals are a bit high and strained for emotional effect, which he carries across with panache, up until the chorus breaks out and the dimensions of his voice round out again. The melody picks up into a very catchy chorus, and Satoshi’s voice cascades pretty tamely along with the tinny strumming and rock drums. A little more mixing is thrown in to keep things, uh, mixed up, and then we’re back into the verses, only the second time around they’ve filled out the capacity of the whole song, so the spacious airiness of the opening verse has turned into a slightly more up-tempo, driven rhythm. Suddenly our sorrow has purpose!
The chorus and final peak are full-bodied, elegant, and emotional. Hollow -hearted and torn-up, black-suited and walking down gloomy, rainy streets? I’m there.
The only weakness I could find in the song, and it’s a very petty sort of complaint, is that its compositional grammar is absolutely spotless. In my own personal experience of the band, earlier girugamesh had a kind of rough, constructive edge to it, which, apparently as the band is getting a little older and wiser (never a brilliant idea), is getting smoothed out. They played around a bit with innovation by adding the mixing, rap, and effects (a.b.s. and their killer turn-table-spinning Toshiyuki Kishi haven’t become popular lately, have they?), but they were so totally tasteful and subtle with it that it’s just that– tasteful and subtle.
Politics aside, the piece gets my full seal of approval.
But don’t go anywhere yet! A single would really be lonely
without its loyal b-side, and in the case of S.T.F.U., this isn’t one to be left behind. In fact, I have to say that S.T.F.U. is one of the best b-sides that I’ve heard in a while. At 2:33 long, it’s short and sweet– almost too short for just how sweet it is. Incredibly catchy, with concise, purposeful lyrics, S.T.F.U. is boy-band Visual Kei at its finest, and giru really rise to the occasion to pull off the perfect blend of rough-and-ready swearing Visual rockers and the pop-rock garage-band members we all have deep in our hearts.