Album review: Perfume - Triangle ⊿

Perfume - Triangle ⊿ | Random J Pop

Whilst Game is credited as the album that started it all, JPN is the album that put Perfume on the road to global exposure and LEVEL3 was the album that acted as the soundtrack to their global growth, their second studio album Triangle is seen as that album that is just...there. It's never credited with anything in particular.

Triangle is a very different album to Game. What you get here are not just recycles of "Polyrhythm", "Secret Secret" and "Twinkly powdery snow". Triangle would set a precedent for Perfume and also a re-occurring theme that fans would grow to either appreciate or despise. Which is that each Perfume album is a complete reflection of its producer, Yasutaka Nakata. Each album is fuelled by whatever is tickling his musical fancy at a given time, as opposed to what Perfume's sound should genuinely be. If there's a particular vibe or sound you liked from Perfume, chances are you won't get it again. So to many fans' dismay or joy. Triangle wasn't Game. Not even remotely. But at times it wasn't even really Perfume either.

Game had no real theme or concept. It was just a collection of electro-pop songs. Triangle has a clear theme, which is aviation and the 80s. There is a real sense of nostalgia and tangibility to every song on this album. Triangle does something unique that no other Perfume album does, which is place Perfume in a very specific time and place. Something which Perfume would move away from to be made to exist outside of all that.

Triangle didn't only bring a shift in Perfume's sound, but also an attempt to individualise the girls by not always having them always sing collectively. Triangle is the last Perfume album which would have equal vocal distribution between the girls, as Nocchi would go on to get less and less parts on songs, despite being ever present here and even being the prominent vocal on songs (i.e "Dream fighter"). It would also be the last album to feature such heavily affected vocals.

One thing to be noted with this album is that the production is as sharp as fuck. Just in case Game or any of Nakata Yasutaka's productions around 2008 and 2009 weren't enough of a showcase. But as laser sharp as the production is, the sound on this album is not synonymous with Perfume. Nakata had given the exact same sound to Ami Suzuki for her album Supreme show and Meg's Beautiful prior, both of whom managed to own their material better than Perfume do here.

Perfume aren't as front and centre on as many of the songs as they should be, which speaks a lot to Nakata's production style; to put the music first and make the artist secondary. As brilliant as "Edge", "Kiss and music" and "Night flight" are, they are stylised and produced within an inch of their life to the point where Perfume don't matter on any of them. Only during live performances do Perfume become the centre piece of these songs and truly claim them. Songs like "Zero gravity" and "Speed of sound" sound more like Capsule songs than anything else. Brilliantly produced. Fit within the album. But Perfume are pushed to the background on both songs over the production and absence of vocals respectively. The songs on which Perfume come through the strongest are the ones on which their sound would be based around somewhat for future albums: "Love the world", "Dream fighter" and "One room disco". Oddly enough the songs on the album which don't feel as tightly bound within the 80s time capsule as some of the other songs.

But despite the non-exclusivity of the sound and Perfume's wavering presence, there are some great songs on this album. "Love the world" is a great song and one I never truly appreciated until years after it had been released. It's also an early example of what would soon become traits with future perform songs in some form. It was a great shift in sound from their earlier overly hyperactive sounding songs and the electro harshness of songs from Game. "Love the world" has a very sleek and smooth vibe to it. "Dream fighter" is amazing. Whilst the quintessential Perfume for many will be "Polyrhtyhm" and "Chocolate disco", for me its "Dream fighter". There is a brightness and sparkle which sits over the entire song, but at its heart sits a beast of a bass line and a real punch which goes hard. There is a real sense of familiarity about this song and even if you can't understand, you'll get the sentiment of the song and understand the feeling that it evokes purely through the music. "I still love U" is a charming mid-tempo with a really nice musical backdrop. It feels like the intro theme to an 80s anime. The only issue I have with this song is that the vocals are too heavily affected to the point of sounding distant. They sit behind the music instead of on top of it. It gives the feeling that Perfume are sat singing the song 75 meters away through a paper cup and that they're not completely present on the song.

Triangle also features some of Perfume's best album cuts. "Edge" is essentially "Game (Part 2)" and would be their performance centrepiece for a good while until LEVEL3's "Party maker" came along. What drives and really makes this song is that it creates the same juxtaposition that "Game" did - that the music is so dark, sexy and dirty for a group like Perfume. It shouldn't work, which is exactly why it does. Then there's "Night flight". This song is perfection and one of Perfume's best songs. That's all I need to say really. Fucking. Perfection. If there's one song which characterises this whole album, it's probably "Night flight". "The best thing" sounds like a cross between "Dream fighter" and "Love the world" and is one of Perfume's earlier instances of singing in English. The nerve of people to have hated on "Spending all my time" and say Perfume sold out by singing in English, when "The best thing" had more English within its hook than the whole of "Spending all my time". It's a great song and another gem that I wish Perfume would perform more live.

It's interesting looking back on this album now, because I feel that certain songs and sounds of this album would actually fit Perfume much better now than they did in 2009. It's also nice to hear a Perfume album with a clear theme and a consistent sound, two things which Perfume would fail to deliver with future releases. But despite the consistency of the sound on this album, there isn't enough that really stands out about it and this is what hurts it overall. As patchy an album as JPN was, it felt more interesting to listen to because of the variety of sounds, how good the singles were (despite one of them being butchered completely with an album mix) and that the songs had character which drew you more to the girls as opposed to the superficiality of a sound. Triangle gives more style than actual substance and this is the lasting impression you're left with. Even in lieu of this album featuring some amazing songs, they get lost in the overall mix and the flat sound the album has when you take it as a whole; something which isn't helped by the shoddy track order.

Triangle is a weird one. It feels more like a vanity project and a vehicle for Nakata Yasutaka more than a showcase of Perfume and an attempt to push the boundaries of their sound. Whilst no album in Perfume's discography at time of writing has really done much to push Perfume in any way, other albums of theirs at least provide a more interesting listen than Triangle. Even if the quality between songs vary greatly.

RATING: 6 / 10

Album highlights:
Love the world
Dream fighter
■ Edge
■ Night flight ★ J's fave
■ Kiss and music
I still love U
■ The best thing

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