MUCC – Shangri-la

review - 11.02.2013 15:37

A balance between the old and new brings forth a new quality.

MUCC’s new album is a surprise in some way. The band’s last works might have implied that they were taking a different path in their career, but this time they decided to put a lot of strong, wild sounds heard in their early days. This new album serves as a link between two completely different sides of MUCC.

Let’s start from the three singles included on this album. Arkadia deat. DAISHI DANCE is clearly an electro song, which is very danceable. However, the electronic beat and melody dominate over the musician, who seems to be pushed aside. Also, Nirvaną and the last single, MOTHER--both a bit softer songs--are based on electronic music. These songs are ideal for people who want to dance and like a strong beat.

For those who prefer strong guitar lines, rockish riffs, a pounding bass and heavy rhythm, as well as those who’ve been anticipating this album, wanting new material--it’s a real pleasure to listen to. The first two songs, Mr.Liar and G.G., show that MUCC has welcomed back good old rock and even metal sounds. In Honey the band gives us great guitar lines and an expressive bass, and Tatsuro uses his powerful growl, which is a long-missed element in MUCC’s songs. Like Honey, G.G. is based on a simple drum beat and features some more great guitar lines in the foreground this time. On a different note, there are oddly spoken parts that seem slightly paranoid and remind fans of the band’s early work. Throughout both songs, though Tatsuro’s voice is not very clear, it is strong and will haunt you long after they end.

The next song, The Bell at the End of the Line, is slightly softer but is also a great listen. Simplicity and an expressive way of singing are key in this song--the instrumentals aren’t really complicated but suit this song very well, and Tatsuro’s vocals, which seem to tell a story, tug at the heartstrings. Similarly, Pure Black is light and jazzy. Here, the contrabass creates a background for the bitter love story told by Tatsuro.

Marry You is also a “love song”, but MUCC seems to interpret love in totally different way. With Tatsuro singing in a silly way that will make you smile, a positive, cheerful melody, and a wedding-like atmosphere, no one would presume that this is a story told by a man who is watching his beloved woman marrying the other guy. Night Shy Craypas, on the other hand, has the most positive message and heartwarming melody, but somehow you can feel some sadness in this simple guitar-based song. Also about love, YOU & I sounds a bit like Utagoe or Ryuusei, with its bright spirit.

Between Pure Black and Marry You is Kyoran Kyosho - 21st Century Baby, probably the most interesting song on this album. Full of contrasts, it begins with rapped aggressive, fast lyrics, but then the song gathers momentum, eventually leading to an epic ending where Tatsuro sings with great power in the last verses. It is very dark and heavy but also consists of some small addition of electro elements. Tatsuro’s growl is combined with children backing the vocals, creating an unusual feeling. Considering its aggressive, vulgar and controversial lyrics, we can call this the most striking song this album.

The most important song in this album is the title track, Shangri-la. It contains the longest composition--but this is necessary, for it develops slowly into a truly epic and powerful track. A pounding drum beat leads the song, and the guitar line is delicate, later turning into a swaying melody during the chorus. The song switches from tranquil and soothing parts backed by a strings section to dramatic parts where Tatsuro unleashes his emotions. All throughout the song he sings in lower voice, which gives this song an even more exalted feeling. This is truly amazing song which will leave you speechless when it’s over.

It’s hard to fit Shangrli-la in any genre. On one hand MUCC has heavy, strong pieces, but they also have music in different styles--futuristic, electronic elements with modified vocals. With this album MUCC has finally found the balance between the electro music they’ve incorporated lately and the heavy rock that was their domain from the beginning to create one consistent style--and that can be called MUCC style. This is an amazingly good album, and we are lucky to have it released in Europe, thanks to Gan-shin.
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