Album Review: SID – “M&W”

This is SID’s eighth studio album and third since going major under Sony Records. It was released on August 1, 2012.

The black and white of this cover is very striking, but it doesn’t exactly impress me like their last two album covers did (they were both really colorful and interesting to look at).

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I really love コナゴナ (Konagona; In little pieces) as the opening track for the album. The fun, slightly bouncy verse plus the strong drum riffs in the chorus lend the song an energetic feel that make me feel excited to be listening. Also worth mentioning is Mao, whose playful but powerful vocal really contributes some flair to the instrumental. As far as opening tracks go, I think this one was very well constructed and it definitely left me wanting more.

Next we have ゴーストアパートメント (Ghost Apartment), which might actually win the award for Upbeat Song with the Most Deceptively Ominous Title Ever. When I started listening to this song, I definitely was not expecting the loud, in-your-face ska sound that I got. That aside, I have to say that I did actually enjoy this song. It is tremendously catchy, and Mao’s voice takes on a sly, devious quality, especially when he goes into falsetto. Well done, SID guys. You fooled me, but then you got me to smile!

If there’s any time when SID can truly impress me, it’s when they let their sensitive side show, as they do on 冬のベンチ (Fuyu no benchi; Winter’s Bench). Although SID have written and released love songs in the past, I feel as though they’re not usually ones to write  about love in the traditional songs. Most of their songs that mention love are tinged with less rosy emotions, like regret and nostalgia. The lyrics of this song, however, are more straightforwardly about love, with a tiny hint of insecurity. This is supported musically by a buoyant, yet sweet instrumentation composed by Yuuya. Furthermore, I was impressed by the song’s success at achieving a poppy sound while still retaining its mellowness, which resulted in a nice but bittersweet love tune.

Next we have (Ito; Thread), a subtle mid-tempo rock song. The first thing I noticed upon listening was the subtle electronic influence in the instrumental. I’ve always admired SID’s ability to incorporate elements of electronic music into their songs without it being super obvious, and this was no exception. This was a really gorgeous song and probably one of my favorites so far.

Café de Bossa is a lovely, breezy summer song. The acoustic guitars are really relaxing and definitely give you the feeling of being in a coffee shop on a cloudy, slow day. Although I would hesitate to call this song catchy as the melody isn’t immediately singable, it is certainly melodic and very pleasing to the ear. I can see this turning out to be one of the standout tracks on the album.

I was completely taken with and its winding guitar riffs the moment I first heard it. Immediately, this is the most aggressive song on the album thus far and it shows on Mao’s belted vocal. There’s also a slight veneer of electronic adjustment over his voice, which surprisingly contributes to the rough sound. Overall, a nice break from the more mellow songs we’ve been hearing.

MOM is really similar to ゴーストアパートメント in that it shares the same brassy sound, and it too is a lot of fun. I can’t really say I got as much out of this track as I did others, but it was still an enjoyable listen and I wouldn’t skip over it if given the choice.

Have you ever heard a song and thought it sounded like an anime theme? That’s pretty much what I thought when I heard いつか (Itsuka; Someday). Although it’s hard to pin down what exactly make it sound that way, it definitely has a dramatic, adventure-like quality to it. The chorus is also very catchy which gives it that “I’m an opening theme to a popular anime” sound. I also liked the contrast between the relaxed verses and the stark chorus.

ドレスコード (Dress Code) left me pleasantly surprising. With its playful piano riffs and lyrics written from a woman’s perspective, I thought this was a really interesting track musically and lyrically. The little “doo doo” thing Mao does at the end of each verse is really cute too!

SID bring back the fun pop-punk with gossip!!, another anime-sounding song with energetic vocals and guitar riffs that sort of remind me of the Seinfeld music (?). With its high energy, this song actually sounds a lot shorter than it is. I’m not exactly sure how it manages to do that, but it does. Not a standout track, but I really like it anyway!

残り香 (Nokoriga; Scent) was one of the singles off the album, and it’s not hard to see why. I really love the beautiful strings incorporated into the instrumental as well as Mao’s passionate, yearning vocal performance. I have to say, of all the different types of songs SID are capable of creating – and there are many – this is my favorite: the majestic, nostalgic rock ballad. I’m glad this was placed at the end of the album because it’s a beautiful song and really brings the album to an effective close.

Summary: So I bet you guys thought I’d completely given up on Japanese music, huh? Well, that’s not true. Although I have been reviewing mostly K-Pop nowadays, I will always have a special place in my heard reserved for J-Pop and J-Rock, and right now, SID are occupying the biggest piece of that space. Listening to this album, I was constantly in awe of SID’s ability to keep me guessing with creative instrumentations and unexpected melodies. Even the songs that weren’t so spectacular (MOM, gossip!!) were only so in relation to the better songs, which make pretty much anything sound bad (冬のベンチ糸, 残り香).  I’m so glad SID are now a major label rock band, because I truly think they are at the forefront of the Japanese rock scene, and I hope they stay there for a long time.

Album Grade: A
Recommended Tracks:
残り香 | Café de Bossa糸 | 冬のベンチS

One thought on “Album Review: SID – “M&W”

  1. Hi there, it is 2016 already ,but I am listening to more and more on SID’s songs. I really like your review on M&W. I think SID has done several great songs after they went Major Debut with Sony. My feeling is that M&W is the zenith of their career. Very solid melody on several tracks on its several styles. ( SKA , Funk , punk, Alt-rock , Jazz , Bossa , Electro-rock , rock ballad ).
    They are always experimental.

    Nokoriga : a perfect song for album ending ( very yearning and beautiful indeed ).

    糸 ( Ito ) : bongos drums ( I think ) and bass are really amazing although mixing several techno instrument but those sound just go along really well with both instruments.

    Café de Bossa : very good break in middle of album very relaxing song before gearing up to an aggressive song like “S”

    冬のベンチ ( Fuyuu no bench ) : I must admit that this song is a little bit “girly” melody combine that with Mao’s voice you will get one of most sweetest romantic song.

    いつか ( Itsuka ) : straightforward yearning feeling song. It is not anime opening but drama opening though.

    There are several more great songs of SID in other albums as well. They really do a lot of experiments on several styles where you can expect more of great songs from them.

    Although during 2014-2016, Mao’s voice seems worse in his suffering on his Miniere’s Disease where he is recovering. The band is currently on semi-hiatus ( or more like vacation lol ). Mao is going to releasing his solo single for first time. I think he is trying regain his singing ability so that SID can fully perform again.

    Not sure if you got some chances to listen to “White tree” and “Enamel” or not . They are pretty good. I think you can expect a good upcoming album which will be their 5th major album and 10th album.

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