I know, I don't very often cover soundtracks and the like on the hallowed pages of this 'blog (more because of lack of time than lack of listening to them), but come on, how can I simply ignore the existence of a new Macross Frontier mini-album to support the release of the new movie Itsuwari No Utahime. The answer, of course, is that I can't.
Thus, we come to Universal Bunny (not the kind of title a manly man would want to ask for at his local record store), an album featuring no less than eight tracks as sung by Sherly Nome (or May'n, if we're talking living, breathing artists). Indeed, it is Universal Bunny itself that makes up the title track of the album, wasting no time in dragging you into a swirling electronic and orchestral soundscape that pulls you towards the high tempo pop/rock that the track encompasses. There's little doubt that this track will at the very least get your foot tapping within thirty seconds, and May'n's voice works as well as ever for this kind of powerful track. A top-notch way to kick off the album, that's for sure, although I somehow find the restart after the "false" ending to the track rather unsatisfying - The way the song seemed to close was perfect to my ears, why extend things further?
That takes us on to Pink Monsoon, a song that has already done the rounds as a single as well as featuring on some of the trailers for the movie. I have a bit of a curious relationship with this track - It caught my ear immediately when I first heard a snippet of it within trailers, then didn't really like the full song when the single was released. Now I've changed my mind - Pink Monsoon is a fantastic slice of pop that could easily sneak into the US charts if you changed the name Sheryl Nome to Britney Spears and somehow managed to convince people that all the lyrics are English, honest. As a song it works wonderfull, and in a subtly more mature way than anything I can remember from the Macross Frontier TV series soundtracks.
With the big hitters arguably out the way, the album shows no sign of letting up with Gira Gira Summer, an anthemic little number which I admire just for its quirky opening (which reminds me of Slayers oddly) if nothing else. Couple that with a chorus that makes you want to jump up and down with glow sticks, and I guess you can tick off another box in the "awesome J-pop" box. That it manages to do this for five full minutes and actually get better and better as the song goes on is testament to the solid writing and production values of the track.
Next up we enter more rock-oriented territory with Izorado. There's quite a lot to like about this track in isolation, yet somehow when you put it all together (song, arrangement and vocals) it doesn't really work for me. This is probably one of those tracks that will work a whole lot better within the confines of the movie itself than as a stand-alone track to listen to just for the Hell of it.
From one extreme to the other, Aenai Toki takes us into the world of the ballad - A world which I rarely find enjoying spending my time in personally, to be honest. It's a solid enough track, but it doesn't make me want to cry my eyes out (maybe when I see the movie that'll change) or start swaying from side to side holding a cigarette lighter, so it's a forgettable song to me and my cold, dead heart.
Eien Ni comes next, swinging back towards a pop/rock arrangement that starts well before losing its way a little bit and entering a rather generic phase that didn't hold much interest for me. Again, there are elements to like, but they don't quite combine to become a Macross Frontier classic.
That is, unlike Obelisk - If one song does everything within its power to channel the Macross Frontier TV show's soundtracks, this song is it. From the mix of the orchestral, guitar and pop beats through to the lyrics and the flow of the tune, this could be lifted straight from the original series, and that alone is enough to make it a work of brilliance.
Last but certainly not least we have the "Universal version" of Tenshi ni Nacchatta (previously found in a more bare bones and shorter version on the Pink Monsoon single), which to be honest feels like it should probably have been recorded for Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex in places to me on account of some of the electronica burbling away in the background - Not that this is a bad thing. Aside from that this is a slow but steady track that is actually enhanced by its generally simplicity rather than stunted by it, which also makes it a perfect way to close off the album. Now, all I have to do is sit and wait for what might be a million years until I can watch Macross Frontier ~Itsuwari No Utahime~ for myself.