Review: HANABIE. – Reborn Superstar
HANABIE. are a Japanese girl band that are kind of hard to describe. They (or their management team) describe themselves as “harajukucore”, which does a pretty good job if you know what those two things mean. I would call them electronicore (a sub-genre of metalcore that uses techno elements eg. Electric Callboy) meets J-pop (Japanese pop, similar to K-pop, which I’m sure at least 85% of the world knows about).
They are similar to BABYMETAL in a way, being that they combine heavy with sweet, but I wouldn’t automatically recommend them to fans of BABYMETAL because their type of heavy is different. I discovered them through a YouTube recommendation for their song “Pardon Me, I Have to Go Now”, which quickly became one of my favourite songs.
They just released their second album (but first on a major label), “Reborn Superstar” and it gets to be the first thing I review on this website! Exciting stuff.
At first glance, I am disappointed that there are only 10 tracks which doesn’t get any better when I find out the first track, Blast Off, is just an opener and not an actual song. It’s just a techno beat with vocoded chipmunk voices. Not much else to say about it.
Hyperdimension Galaxy is the actual opening track, and it’s pretty strong. It’s quintessential HANABIE. with the juxtaposition between the heavy and sweet vocals, and some great techno elements. I do feel like there’s a slight imbalance with the amount of clean vocals though, and it can get a little grating towards the end.
NEET GAME is next. This was the first single released from the album, released almost a year ago! I have heard it plenty of times before, so it’s not fresh to my ears, but it’s still a decent song. The balance of vocals is much better, and the “yeah, yeah, yeah” is fun to sing along to!
Be the GAL is their most recent single, which is a “summer anthem”. Being that I hate summer, I have a weird love/hate thing going with songs about it, but this one is fun and more about the expectations that come with summer than actually enjoying it. So I can get behind that!
Tales of Villain is a somewhat slower, but still heavy track, but I particularly love the harsh vocals on this one. Yukina (the harsh vocalist) does some really cool things with her voice that I don’t know exactly how to describe. She almost goes into a black metal howl, which is impressive!
Warning!! has a very similar vibe to We Love Sweets from their previous album. Unfortunately, this one has a part in it where Matsuri (the clean vocalist) goes really high and almost sounds like she’s struggling and it is almost painful for the ear I’m currently having problems with.
ME, The Ultimate Invader of the Universe reminds me a lot of the song Iine! by BABYMETAL (which is my favourite BABYMETAL song) because it’s more of a rap song. There’s a very different vocal tone going on here as well, so if it’s not a guest vocalist, it’s really impressive what Yukina and Matsuri can do with their voices!
Run Away was released as a single a month ago, and I wasn’t jazzed on it by itself (especially compared to NEET GAME and Pardon Me, I Have to Go Now), but it fits in well on this album. It’s “standard HANABIE.” with the mix of heavy and sweet. I don’t have much else to say about it.
Pardon Me, I Have to Go Now is the standout track, and as I mentioned earlier, the one that got me into HANABIE. It incorporates traditional Japanese instruments, which is super cool. The balance of Yukina and Matsuri’s voice on this track is just perfect, and ugh, I just freakin’ love this song!
The closing track is Today’s Good Day & So Epic. I have a fondness for songs that open with a thick bassline, and this song is no exception. You can probably guess from the title, but this is a very happy and upbeat song. It still has kickass harsh vocals, but it’s definitely a song where Matsuri shines.
My opinion of everything is likely to change as I listen to it more (which is par for the course for me), but right now, I like it! But I think my overall opinion might be carried mostly by Pardon Me, I Have to Go Now. I may add to this in a few weeks if you’re interested in how my opinion changed.