Single review: Perfume - If you wanna

Single review: Perfume - If you wanna | Random J Pop

One of the biggest issues with J-Pop artists recording and releasing singles so close after the release of an album is that they more often than not always sound like cuts from the album which came before. For better or for worse. In Perfume's case it's been for the worse, as the album which came before was an inconsistent mess which wasn't that good.

Perfume's singles "Tokyo girl" and "Houseki no ame" sounded like leftovers from their 5th studio album Cosmic explorer and so does "If you wanna" and "Everyday". So already that's four songs on their next album that I can't stand.

I was ready to kill the mass relay to Cosmic explorer. But Perfume seems to wanna keep it open.

"If you wanna" and "Everyday" are both bad songs. Not MJ bad. Oxford dictionary definition bad. What makes them worse is that they both feature elements which work as the sum of a part, but the songs as two wholes just do not work.

The A-side "If you wanna" starts off as your typical Perfume song, which isn't such a bad thing after the likes of "Tokyo girl" which was one of the most generic and regressive songs Perfume had ever done. So it's nice to have a reminder that their producer Nakata Yasutaka has some recollection of what makes a Perfume song a Perfume song. Kinda. The song is marred by really bad vocals. Nobody listens to Perfume songs for strong vocals. But as of late their vocals have gone from un-obtrusive to grating and it's killing songs which are on buckled legs to begin with. I honestly do not get why Kashiyuka gets so much air time on songs when she has the worst vocals in the group, and why she always gets sections of songs which should have gone to one of the other girls. She opens "If you wanna" with her struggling ass vocals when it should have been a-chan or Nocchi. But even a-chan and Nocchi sound pretty bad here because their vocals sound strained. It's the usual shit of Perfume being made to sing in an annoyingly nasal voice which doesn't facilitate higher keys. I know that Nakata is trying to step back on the auto tune for Perfume's songs these days, but he should have turned the knob all the way up for it here to correct the pitch of the vocals and smooth them out.

The music on the verses is actually really nice, comprised of Perfume's vocals being completely chopped-up amidst a nice set of keys and synths. More interestingly, the instrumental of this song does not feature their chopped vocals as part of the music as "Daijobanai" did; which is a nice touch and one of few examples where Perfume's vocal contributions actually add something substantial to the music, which isn't always the case. However, this all goes to shit by the chorus, which hits with some dub step lite type of nonsense. It's like Nakaka just dropped a piece of music from Tekken 7 into the middle of a Perfume song. Had "If you wanna" been given a stronger chorus which felt cohesive with the song, well produced vocals and a much stronger melody, it could have been good.

The issue with the B-side "Everyday" is that it sounds like it was composed as a jingle first and foremost. As a result, it suffers the same way that "If you wanna" does: a nice set of verses, but a shit show of a chorus which doesn't fit the tone of the verses at all and not in a good way. What makes this even worse is that "Everyday" is one Perfume song since "Pick me up" where the girls actually sound decent. Nocchi in particular (as was also the case on "Pick me up") shines here. So much so that her vocals in the intro of the song are the sole redeeming factor of this shitty washing machine song. I've never heard Nocchi sing like this on a Perfume song...EVER. Her vocals are clear, she doesn't sound crusty as she usually does and she's not singing in that horrid typical Perfume voice that I've grown to hate. She genuinely sounds great. Nocchiah Carey straight up left me...

Nocchi be scalping (GIF by ?J) | Random J Pop

But then a-chan and Kashiyuka come in and throw it off. Whilst their vocals aren't terrible, they are oddly sat in-between trying to sing with their natural voices, whilst maintaining that Perfume chipmunk shit. I have mentioned numerous times that greater focus needs to be placed on the production and arrangement of Perfume's vocals and this song is the best example why. There is such inconsistency. It's as though Nocchi is singing the song one way, whilst a-chan and Kashiyuka are singing it another. There's an imbalance here, which is attributed to Nakata as the producer of the song not giving enough of a fuck about vocals. If he's not going to produce Perfume's vocals, then he needs to bring somebody in who can, or Perfume need to step up and produce their own vocals.

"If you wanna" marks another weak single release from Perfume. I can't say that I'm surprised, as weak singles have now become synonymous with the group. A crazy thing to say given that their strength of their single releases during 2010 - 2011 is what made me a fan of theirs.

Cosmic explorer was a clear sign that things in the Perfume camp weren't quite right. "If you wanna" is the red flag. Two terrible songs with elements which do not work, yet were kept in and released regardless. Alongside two really forgettable music videos which feature looks and tricks we've seen them do better in the past.

After 17 years, Perfume should not be releasing a single this weak. Especially not after the likes of "Star train", "Flash" and "Tokyo girl". More so, Nakata should not being playing 'lets see what sticks' with Perfume's music after so many years. By now its quite clear what type of sounds will and will not work for Perfume. At this stage they should be at that point where their music is as tight as fuck and is in a state of evolving and moving forward. But instead their sound is moving backwards. And here we are, with inconsistent albums and patchy singles.

Nakata is making zero effort to push the boundaries of Perfume's sound in a way which shows growth and a desire for them to not just please the current fan-base, but garner a new one. The essence of what makes a Perfume song a Perfume song is being stripped out or compromised due to his own selfishness and lack of awareness. Nakata is just forcing songs onto Perfume that he thinks sounds cool with little to no regard to the sound that he had cultivated for Perfume in the beginning and where it should be now.

Perfume are not showing the charm, the spark and the creativity in their music and visuals that made them who they are and it's officially a fucking problem now.

RATING: 2 / 10

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