As she emerges from the post-apocalyptic ruins of her previous album “Beautiful,” (AKA “Butt-Ugly Mess”) electropop sensation MEG bids farewell to her dear friend Yasutaka Nakata as she heads out on a new, well, journey with a new buddy. This guy is Mr. Dave Liang of the Shanghai Restoration Project. Nakata wipes a tear from his eye and gently mutters, “sayonara.”
What you have just read is a dramatization of what occurred in the aftermath of MEG’s last full-length album “Beautiful.” I have to say that I was expecting so much more out of it than what was given to me, but I suppose that’s life. MEG took a break from working with capsule/Perfume/a bazillion other projects mastermind Yasutaka Nakata to work with Dave Liang. I’m not dissing Nakata because I am a very big fan of his work, but MEG’s music improves drastically when she works with other people. The mini-album “Journey” is like the perfect mix of her Nakata stuff and her more jazzy pieces like the uber dark schizophenic anthem “Scanty Blues.” Now for a track-by-track review. I have a feeling that I’m going to have fun with this one…
Track 1: Droplets- First off, let me point out how cute and well-done the PV for this song is. This is a light-hearted and poppy song with very heavy Asian influences. The instrumentals are almost nonexistent during the voices, allowing MEG’s voice to resonate and convey the image of individual raindrops falling with each beat. The lyrics are simple but poetic. Excellent song.
Track 2: Questions- I get all kinds of vibes from this song. It feels like a mix between secret agent music, 60s psychadelic pop, and reggae rhythms. It’s a unique and odd combination, but it works really nicely. The way I’ve described this song probably makes it sound like a mess, but its actually not bad at all.
Track 3: Rush- Here’s the oddball track on here. The lyrics speak of a girl who apparently has a ton of nonsensical crap to do, she has nobody to help her, and she’s frantic.She sounds like a high school senior if you ask me. The simple melody is also frantic and the beat accentuates this. Continuous back up vocals spew up a steady “doot doot doot” and there are several chanted lyrics as well. You’ll either love this song or it will bug you to death. No gray area here whatsover.
Track 4: Dreamscape- This song returns to the Asian influences of “Droplets,” and sounds like a continuation of this song. I didn’t like this song that much. Nothing about it stood out for me.
Track 5: Just Like That- I have to say that this is the second best track on the mini-album. This is the jazziest song found on “Journey” and is comprised of some scatting as well as a call and response between MEG and a muffled version of her voice. The muffled vocals are a nice, dare I say beautiful addition to the song. I would break out my old tap shoes and dance to this song but they’re three sizes too small. 😥
Track 6: Journey- Here we have the the titular track of the mini-album. I may be quite bold in saying this, but this song is MEG’s magnum opus. The beat is addicting from the get-go, and there are some exotic wailing-esque noises playing in the background several times in the song. MEG’s voice is beautiful and flows throughout the piece like the waves on the ocean. The instrumentals are incredibly simple and totally driven by the voice. Its a relaxing and breathtaking piece of art that you become a part of while you listen to it.
Track 7: Dawn (remix)- Please don’t stone me to death, but I like this better than the original.
In Conclusion: “Journey” is a masterpiece. A couple of songs grow a touch stale after repeated plays, but the overall theme and mood of the mini-album is spectacular. I look forward to more collaborations with Dave Liang. I loved being able to hear MEG’s voice with some (if not all) of that vocoder stripped away. Her natural voice really shines. Highly recommended!