B’z new single released in August presented an interesting level of depth to support the dive its name suggests. The single, which boasts a decent serving of 3 songs: theme song to the TV drama starring heartthrob Yamashita Tomohisa, Buzzerbeat – Gakeppuchi no Hero: イチブトゼンブ[Ichibu to Zenbu], TV spot insert song Dive, and National Holiday. This is generous fare here, giving ‘singularity’ as it were not to the quantity, but rather to the quality.
Ichibu to Zenbu/ DIVE, released August 5th 2009 is an interesting combination of going where we have not gone before, while keeping one foot on familiar land.
First of all, the PV quality for both title songs is perfect. Both Tak and Inaba are at their finest, musically and stylistically. Even the most determined nitpicker could not contest their classic, casual style– and come on, nobody ever sang like him, and nobody ever will. The PVs are smooth, grungy, and moody, with plenty of thick coloring, creating a very rich, real texture. They’ve veered from shots of Tak vested in ’90s glory tearing up Tokyo with his sickening riffs atop breezy buildings and Inaba knee-deep in water (ねがい ｛Negai]) which are, uh, ’90s, and abstract, to down-to-earth, flowing footage of them simply rocking out in as casual and disgusting awesomeness as only B’z can.
Secondly, the guitar on this single is so incredible it’s disgusting. Like, really. When one listens to a lot of bands these days, one feels, oh, you know, inspired. Motivated. Like, hey, cool, I want to be like him, and with enough practice, I can be! And then you happily devote yourself to callus-splitting hours of guitar practice. But, when you listen to Tak play– we hearken back to ’92 comedy glory Waynes World prostrations before Alice Cooper and wails of We’re not worthy~! Any emotional damage you may suffer at the hands of Ichibu to Zenbu/DIVE is unfortunate– but in some states therapy is included in health-insurance. Let’s hope that if you’re taking the plunge and picking up this single, that you live in one of those states.
What I mean by ‘going where none have gone before’ and yet ‘keeping one foot on familiar ground’, is that the single opens with Ichibu to Zenbu. Ichibu to Zenbu, already noted as the theme song for the basketball-themed drama starring Yamashita Tomohisa of NEWS fame, Buzzerbeat, is a slick combination of classic B’z sound and a new feel. The opening, electronicky loops, for example, have a hip, totally fresh feel that promises to wrap up our summer fun nicely. Those loops lead into some interesting, killer guitar riffs that sustain themselves through the entire song, new and striking. The vocal melody, however, sounds somehow familiar. Not that it is in any way a copy or ‘shortcut’ of a song, but IMPO Inaba hasn’t challenged himself in the composition of this piece. The melody is classic B’z fare– unpredictable, a little hard to follow at first, and yet bursting with their standard appeal and typical Inaba vocals.
If you’re looking for a whole new cup of tea, however, drift neatly into Dive— which is really, honestly, all you need. The PV is incredible– bizarre, but stylish and super-produced (I won’t give any spoilers). The opening sound is an instant hook, muffled lalalalalas that skip right on into the meat. The volume picks up, the muffle-effect zaps, and we’re ker-splash right into Dive— the true heart of the single.
Not only is Dive super catchy– it seems to be charting new waters for B’z. Where Ichibu to Zenbu was, shall we say again, classic, Dive is all nouveau. The melody is straightforward by B’z standards, and its repeat value seems nearly inexhaustible– try as I might, I can’t seem to get sick of it. It picks up with the same strangely polished yet grunge-appeal as its predecessor, but loses the “OP charm” and we’ve got a one-way ticket back to hardcore rock town. Somehow the chorus route of lalalas into lyricsville is aloof, challenging, packed with attitude, and yet totally on the map with catchy accessibility.
The third song and B-side, National Holiday, feels, well, admittedly like a B-side. But in the case of B-sides, I hold to the old tolerate and accept formula of when in doubt, exceed low expectations rather than fall short of high ones. In any case, National Holiday is a gentle conclusion to the gum-chewing name-taking title songs. Enjoy it as the charming pop song it is– but really, Ichibu to Zenbu and DIVE are quite something to follow up, and by the time you’ve listened through, you’d win hardcore-of-the-month if you could handle anymore sheer awesomeness.