Japanese, Reviews

Not Just For Lovers: DEEN’S LOVERS CONCERTO (Review)

March 21, 2010 | | 1 Comment Share thison Facebook Not Just For Lovers: DEEN’S LOVERS CONCERTO (Review)on Twitter

When you hear the name Deen, you may recall their 1997 single titled “Yume de Aru You ni” which was used as the theme song to Namco’s Tales of Destiny or “Eien no Ashita” which was used for the opening for Tales of Hearts. Anime fans may remember them for their songs “Hitori ja nai” and “Kimi ga Inai Natsu” which were used for Dragon Ball GT and Detective Conan, respectively. The group has gone on to record a fair number of singles and albums since then, but truth be told, despite being a fan, I have not actually listened to their music since then.

Given the opportunity to write a review on Deen’s latest album, I imagined I would be in for a surprise given the nearly 10 year gap since the last time I’ve listened to their music. To me, Deen has always been synonymous with relaxing ballads and J-pop standards. Needless to say I expected more of the same in terms of Deen’s style. For some this might not be a good thing but for others that might be exactly what they are looking for in Lovers Concerto.

So does Lovers Concerto deliver the goods? Hit the jump for the review.

The album is described as the first album comprised entirely of love songs. According to Deen’s official website, this album is a must have item to warm you during the loneliness of winter. Given its December 2009 release date, the theme fits very well and I am sure it helped with CD sales. The CD contains 11 tracks including Deen’s singles “Celebrate” and “Negai,” which reached 12th and 13th place, respectively, on the daily Oricon ranking. Given the lack of big hit singles or tracks with major commercial tie-ins, I have an expectation that album will be good all around and not chock full of B-sides that no one may care about.

The album is also notable for the number of people who Deen collaborated with to put it together. Mari Mizuno of Paris March is a prominent collaborator who is featured on the tracks “Negai” and “harukaze.” Shungo Itou of Kinmokusei is also featured on the track “Glory Day.” Though I do not doubt their talent, not knowing who these groups are makes it difficult to be excited by this development. The important thing here is that it doesn’t cause me to chuck this CD out a window in disgust.

Starting with the first track, “Negai,” I am quickly reminded of Deen’s style. The sound is catchy and definitely what is expected of a J-pop track. The use of strings throughout the track and lyrics about those melancholy feelings of lost love certainly achieve the goals for the premise of the album. Throw in a lot of winter imagery in the lyrics and the package is complete. A track I found particularly interesting was “Gosenshi no Love Song” which started off with a spirited violin solo by violinist Emiri Miyamoto. The prominence of Ms. Miyamoto’s violin throughout the song adds a very nice dimension that seems to go well with the pop sound of Deen. I like how the violin parts seem to flow easily in and out throughout the song to complement the vocal parts.

While we are on the subject of classical music, given the similarity, there is a track entitled “A Lover’s Concerto” which is an instrumental piece based on the popular song by Sandy Linzer and Denny Randell which is then based off of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Minuet in G major.” The song has a relaxing feel to it which would serve well as the ending track on this album, yet it is instead the second to last track.

In the end, I like Lovers Concerto. I admit that there is nothing groundbreaking about this album and certainly you can find similar if not better music in the myriad of groups out there in Japan. Fans of Deen however, will perhaps appreciate the fact that little seems to have changed in Deen’s style. If there was something to take away from this album for everyone else, it is certainly a relaxing enough CD that you could have it playing in the background while relaxing or perhaps cozying up with that special someone. It’s available at CD Japan and Play-Asia.

For fans of J-pop out there, what groups do you prefer to listen to in your daily activities? Where do you stand when it comes to groups who keep to the same style versus those who adapt and change with the times?

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