Album Review – Charisma.com – not not me

Release date: March 22, 2017

Track List: 

  1. #hashdark
  2. Like it
  3. Yajiuma Dance
  4. Iji Easy (意地easy)
  5. Lunch time funk
  6. classic glasses
  7. Dattara show me (だったらshow me)
  8. Muko ni Oide (婿においで)
  9. Mekimeki more (メキメキmore)
  10. Chicken boom
  11. not not me

Total runtime: 00:37:33

Recommended for: fans of electronic music and rap, especially those who like the two meshed together

Not recommended for: ballad and acoustic song enthusiasts

Electro-rap duo Charisma.com have finally returned with their second studio album. I’ve been following the group for a little while now, ever since I stumbled upon their 2014 release HATE around 2 years ago. They’ve immediately captured my attention with their catchy electronic beats that seemed to be present in nearly all of their work, as well as member Itsuka’s unique style of rapping. Their first studio album, DIStopping, was a very cohesive and consistent album, one that I still take the pleasure of listening to on a somewhat regular basis. So, does this album hold up to these high standards that they’ve already put up for themselves?

Track review:

1. #hashdark

The title track starts off with a lighthearted guitar riff that really sets up the mood for the song. During the first verse a strong bass kicks in, changing the feel of the track for a bit, but managing to avoid a mood whiplash. However the pre-chorus gradually brings back the more cheerful features of the track. Overall I think it’s a great album starter – it’s catchy and upbeat, and the combination of guitar-led and synth-based instrumentals flow along pleasantly with the girls’ vocals.

2. Like it

Up next, Like it has a very old school hiphop vibe to it, making it quite different from the group’s usual musical style (even if it’s not the first time they’ve tried out this type of song).  The verses have a funky bass line accompanying them, but still have the tendency to sound dull and repetitive. The chorus is probably the best part of the song in my opinion, due to the soothing harmonies of the members. It isn’t too bad of a track, though you’ll enjoy it much more if you’re one to actively listen to this type of songs.

3. Yajiuma Dance

By far one of the most notable songs on the album, it’s a lot more faithful to Charisma.com’s trademark electro pop sound. It’s very synth-heavy, and consistent all throughout. It may sound a bit mellow compared to their previous works which usually had heavier synths and stronger bass lines, but it’s certainly a highlight in this particular album.

4. Iji easy (意地easy)

After the previous banger comes the slower, laid-back Iji easy. Due to its sound, it can be considered akin to a coffee shop song. While I don’t mind R&B-influenced tracks, this one isn’t particularly remarkable. I appreciate the occasional hip synths, but it isn’t enough to make me want to replay this song more than a couple of times, and it remains a rather weak track.

5. Lunch time funk

Unfortunately an even weaker track comes around with Lunch time funk. Like the title suggests, it sounds like a bonafide guitar-led funk song, so if you’re into that genre, then I think you’ll enjoy it quite a bit. If not, this will likely seem like a filler track, because it’s pretty forgettable for the most part. The only notable part of it could be the chorus, with its nice, smooth bass line.

6. classic glasses

A short string of potentially skippable tracks is followed by classic glasses, an Itsuka solo. It sounds somewhat interesting – if only for the fact that the instrumentals are formed solely out of one funky bass guitar from start to finish.  That way, it may seem lackluster and boring, but the bass line is catchy enough to make it work. Either way, I can appreciate its uniqueness, at the very least (both in terms of the lack of instruments and the weirdness of the lyrics, as Itsuka wonders where her glasses are in glorious Engrish during the chorus).

7. Dattara show me (だったらshow me)

The track stars off with a guitar riff which, if you have headphones on while listening, may seem like it’s travelling from one ear to another, which is a neat touch. Then a high synth kicks in and introduces the listener to yet another smooth jam. It’s honestly not bad at all, but I would appreciate it a lot more if the chorus felt less underwhelming, since it has some decent buildup to it.

8. Muko ni Oide (婿においで)

Steering away even further from what fans are used to expect from Charisma.com, Muko ni Oide represents a somewhat pleasant surprise on this album. Jazzy drums and brass instruments are prominent all throughout, accompanied by the duo’s unique vocals, reminiscent of their usual works. Another thing worth noting are the seemingly out-of-place synths that pop up out of nowhere during the chorus, but they surprisingly grew on me after a couple of listens.

9. Mekimeki more (メキメキmore)

This song is a lot more lighthearted compared to the rest of the album tracks, and pop influences are much more evident. A mellow riff kickstarts the track, followed by some catchy beats and synth lines. Like Yajiuma Dance, this is another one of my personal favorites off this album. To some, it may seem like the instrumentals are too generic for Charisma.com’s style, but I think they pulled off this pop track excellently. I even appreciated the surprising lack of rap elements – it isn’t until the second verse that they finally kick in!

10. Chicken boom

All of a sudden, heavy, disjointed synths and a guitar riff introduce the penultimate track, Chicken boom. This is probably the most hit-or-miss track of the album, as the electronic-heavy parts of the song can come off as ear-grating and inconsistent. Personally, while I found the beginning to be whiplash-inducing, I think the rest of the song is pretty good. I especially enjoyed the lighter instrumentals and buildup during the first verse and pre-chorus.

11. not not me

Finally, the album wraps up with an eponymous track. The instrumentals are quite soothing and have a tropical feel to it, making it a great contender for a potential summer jam. Similarly to Mekimeki more, this is more of a pop track than a purely electronic one, but they pull off this style very well, and I would love it if they put out more songs like this one in future releases. It’s simple, lighthearted, and overall nothing too particularly unique, but I still consider it one of the highlight songs this album has to offer.

 

Review overview
Summary Due to the inconsistent musical style in several of the tracks, this is definitely not one of Charisma.com’s best works. I expected a lot more from them, since I loved every single one of their previous releases. However, there are still some diamonds in the rough to be taken from this album and be potentially remembered as some of their best songs. Some fans might find themselves disappointed with this release, but whether or not you’re a newcomer to their discography, I recommend giving this album a listen regardless. It’s something different from the bombastic electronic stuff they usually put out, but whether or not that’s a positive is really up to the listener.
3.5
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  • Rinne

    Never heard of them, and now I do

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