Hello MikuDB! It’s a bit late, but summer is finally over, so let’s take a look at two albums from the end of the season: Summer without you by *Luna and GREATEST SHITS by UtsuP. Let’s begin with Summer.
*Luna has been making music for a while now, but they blew up in the last couple years with some hit songs like “Heal Me” and “Manic“. Summer without you is the first full *Luna album I’ve given a try, and I think it holds up to the quality of *Luna’s singles.
The songs jump between different sounds and styles, but are all held together by the album’s summer theme. I especially like how some tracks convey a certain aspect of “summer”, such as the beachy, tropical sounds of “Tsurezure Factor” and the Japanese summer theme of “Fading Summer Light”. Those are more obvious because the music is very thematic, but I think it’s safe to say the lyrics of other songs relate to some facet of summer as well.
Another thing I really like is that every song uses different voice banks, all tuned excellently. They’re not just a range of popular voices either; you’ve got well-known ones like Miku, Yukari, and IA, but there are also less-common banks like Rana, Kizuna Akari, and Nekomura Iroha. This is exactly the kinda thing I like to see (I even wrote about it a while ago). I even think some of the less-common voices here sound better than the popular ones (not to say they always do, just referring to this album).
While *Luna does all of the songwriting, music, and lyrics, an artist named bibi does the voice manipulation, and their high-quality tuning definitely contributes to the appeal of the music. Nekomura Iroha sounds absolutely beautiful on “Fading Summer Light”, and the album’s big single “Chatrüge” is really sold by the dynamics and feeling in Rana and Una’s voices. There’s even an acoustic version bonus track that lets you really hear how good they are. Of course, *Luna deserves credit for putting these songs together so wonderfully, but I also want to commend bibi’s ability to execute the vocals so well.
All-in-all, I really like this album. The only songs I dislike are “2 Silhouettes” and “8.32“. The former has the weakest vocals in my opinion and I find it generally bland. “8.32” is also kinda forgettable but to a lesser degree (stronger tuning also). Some songs are not quite as strong as the ones I’ve specifically praised here, but they’re still good and contribute positively to the overall listening experience. If I had to give it a number, I’d say Summer without you is a 7 or 8/10 – great summer album.
Now let’s change gears to talk about the latest from UtsuP, who probably needs no introduction.
GREATEST SHITS is a compilation of remastered songs from his discography selected by UtsuP and fans – a “best of” album, of course. Since there’s no new material here, I’ll review it based on the song selection and remastering.
I’m not sure exactly what criteria Utsu used to pick these songs, but they’re generally his most popular ones. There were also four songs chosen by fans, which ended up being Chocolate Girl, Hearts Sutra Hardcore, Ghost Under the Umbrella, and Absolute Dance Music. Fairly good picks, actually. There are some I think could have made it in the tracklist like Psychokinesis and Dope Disco, and some personal favorites that probably aren’t popular enough to make it, like The Setting Sun, Cold, and Poison Apple. You can’t include everything though, so I think what got in is generally a good sampling. But I’ve gotta say, he should’ve gone with Self-Destruct no.2 instead of the original.
The remastering is pretty spot-on. It sounds like the usual bassiness is slightly enhanced but the mixing also makes the individual parts much clearer. You can distinctly hear a lot of the lead sections and flourishes that are a bit more drowned out in other mixes. Even if it’s not your favorite mix of a song, I think it lets you enjoy it in a fresh way. It also seems like he added some small embellishments on a number of tracks, which are especially noticeable on more electronic-heavy songs like “Anti-Digitalism”. The vocals aren’t heavily changed aside from minor updates, which is fine since he’s always had pretty clear tuning.
I’m not sure I want to give this a rating, since it’s remastered material and not an original work, but it’s certainly top-tier in the “greatest hits” category. Besides, what Utsu fan could really pass up over 80 minutes of some of his best material?
As always, thanks for reading! Don’t forget to leave a comment if you have recommendations, requests, or thoughts about these albums.