This is an album that I have no idea WHY I didn’t review it when it came out. Musically, Dempagumi.inc was my top group of 2013. Sure my favorite overall group is still Team Syachihoko, but in terms of releases Dempa tends to be the best mix of exciting while being consistently good out there.
So here’s there latest album, World Wide Dempa, and my thoughts on it!
1. Hajimari ~ World Wide Dempa
Intro track! I actually really like this intro track, thematically. It takes a lot of separate themes and ideas and throws them together into one track, which is kind of what W.W.D does. So not only does this opening track get fans excited about the upcoming album and serve as an introduction, but it works very well thematically. Ultimately it’s not something I’ll listen to unless I’m listening to the whole album right away, but it serves its purpose well. 8/10
2. Demparade Japan
I like Demparade Japan. Really, I do. It has a lot of energy and did a good job of introducing the current lineup (minus Atobe Miu and now with added Moga and Pinky). It feels like a typical Demapgumi song, and is generally well-made. However, after the other single songs on this album and the stellar music that Dempagumi has been putting out on a regular basis, Demparade falls a bit flat? I mean, I like the elements of the song, especially the chiptune background. Everything about this song is nice, and I don’t dislike any of it, but it just doesn’t live up to the high standards I hold for Dempa. Unfair? Perhaps. But I imagine a lot of fans might feel the same way. 7/10
3. Future Diver
Hyadain! Nostalgia! This is the song that I first listened to from Dempagumi.inc. At the time I really liked it, bti had no idea if the group would go anywhere. Future Diver is another song that doesn’t quite live up to the rest of the Dempagumi.inc oeuvre, but still skates by a lot on personal feelings. It is a pretty standard upbeat idol song, by many measures, but has a lot of cuteness and sweetness to it, as well. I particularly like the energy and excitement during the “Dive” chants. I also like the use of chiptune in here, as well. It’s kind of a match made in heaven, given Hyadain’s video game remix roots.
As a fan, I had a bit of a hard time getting into Dempa’s vocals (here it’s mostly Nemu and Eimi that I had an issue with), and if you’re a new Demapgumi.inc fan this might be the hardest song for you to listen to (unless you’re a Beastie Boys fan listening to Sabotage for the first time). However it’s fairly easy for me to get past, and once you get past the exterior Future Diver is quite nice.
I was sure with how unhinged this song was that it was written by Hyadain, but no; it was written by Tsutaya Koichi, a producer who has worked with acts like YUKI, Ikimonogakari, among others. I don’t see any other big idol acts among his acts, so this is a fairly unprecedented grouping.
In short, I love this song. It has a lot of attitude and manages to be an interesting, unique song while feeling still very much like Dempagumi.inc.
First off, while the vocals were slightly uncomfortable within Future Diver, all the girls here sound great. Risa in particular is a shining star with her vocals in the Danse Macabre-esque section at about 1:45. Risa’s always been the vocal talent of Dempagumi.inc, but here she sounds lovely. I also enjoy the girls at the beginning; they have a lot of attitude.
The song passes through multiple styles and segments, but manages to maintain a fairly cohesive whole. As I mentioned, that’s what I feel this album and Dempagumi.inc as a whole have been going for, so this song goes even more towards that. Vandalism is another wonderful entry into the Dempagumi.inc library, and the most played of the new songs for me. 9/10
You guys know I love this. Before I became a big Dempagumi.inc fan, this is what I ranked in my top 25 songs list of 2012. Hyadain + Beastie Boys; it’s a combination that magically, against all the odds, works incredibly well. It matches the original song with some trademark Dempa oddness, and makes a memorable cover. It does what, in my opinion, a good cover should; it still has a lot of the flavor of the original song, but Dempa made it their own. 8/10
I’ve already written about this in my top 25 songs of 2013 so I’m going to keep this brief. But essentially, this song is brilliant. First off, the lyrics are lovely and personal, about where Dempagumi.inc started out. Then the song reinforces the theme of the song, how six unique girls formed a group, by having various unique styles come together into one unified song. It’s fun, moving, energetic, and one of the best songs from 2013. 10/10.
7. Nazo Kara
This was a tie-in with JOYSOUND and a B-Side of one of the versions of W.W.D II. Honestly, this song initially baffled me with its cool, KPop esque sound. This is still Dempagumi.inc, so there’s chiptune sounds in there and the chorus is high energy JPop again, but the rest of the song is trying to be dark, cool KPop. Or Lady Gaga maybe?
This isn’t terrible, but it’s clear that this isn’t Dempa’s forte. I do like how the arrangement has bits and pieces from Dempagumi.inc proper, but the shift in tone between the chorus and the verses doesn’t quite work for me. It’s all a bit sudden. I like some of the individual pieces of the song; the melody is fine, for instance. Just as a song this just doesn’t work. 6/10
8. Itsuka Haruka Kanata
Slowing things down! This is the start of the slower/sweeter section of the album, which might not be something you think of when you think of Dempagumi.inc, but these songs prove they do it quite well.
Unfortunately, Itsuka Haruka Kanata is a solid mid-tempo song, but it’s not the most memorable. Of the three new songs, Itsuka Haruka Kanata is by far the least interesting and the one I have listened to the least.
I enjoy the opening a lot (Pinky sounding her best), and the strong production of a Dempagumi.inc song is there. Unfortunately it falls into a weird spot; it’s not as sweet and pleasant as Kira Kira Tune and Fuyu e to Hashiridasou and it’s not the high energy fun songs. The arrangement is really good and the girls are great, but this doesn’t quite do it for me as much as I wish it would. 6/10
9. Kira Kira Tune
Hey, speak of the devil! This is the single song that might seem like the odd one out for Dempagumi.inc, but in a way that makes it one of the most interesting. It’s a guitar-heavy song that’s pretty mid/fast paced, but still sounds incredibly sweet and heartwarming in a way that I can’t really describe in writing. It’s the chorus, mainly, with the extended long notes by Dempa and the swelling strings. The whole song is very well written, in this way, and sounds great.
The thing that doesn’t get quite enough credit, I think, are the strange lyrics that subvert expectations about idol lyrics; Kira Kira Tune makes you think it’s going to be “kira kira” as in shining/sparkling, but it’s actually “Killer killer.” They sing at one point what sounds like “doki doki” (heart thumping) but it’s actually “dorky dorky.” It’s pretty basic wordplay, but I’ll take what I can get.
Kira Kira Tune is well-written and subverts what I expect about Dempa. 9/10
10. Fuyu e to Hashiridasuo!
This is a song that I didn’t fully appreciate until lately. It’s off W.W.D, so when that single came out I was really focusing on how much I LOVED W.W.D without listening as much as I should to Fuyu.
Fuyu is a perfect contrast and complement to W.W.D; whereas W.W.D is brash, out there, and almost aggressively strange, Fuyu e to Hashiridasuo is much quieter, mellow, and has a heavy emphasis on acoustic guitar. It’s still well-written and interesting, but in a much different way to W.W.D. The girls sound lovely and do well in this understated song. It is lovely. 10/10
This takes a turn for the strange after a couple of simpler, lovely songs. This takes some of the kind of stereotypical non-Japanese but Eastern aesthetic (think GOUNN and Naniwa no Haniwa) and gives it a Dempagumi.inc twist. And do they ever; the girls’ vocals are at their zaniest and most unhinged. They aren’t unpleasant, but just odd.
That’s an accurate description of this song, in general. It’s almost shocking after Fuyu e to Hashiridasuo. There are a lot of pleasant things in here; I quite like the harmonization that goes on, and the melody is very pleasant. And I personally enjoy my fair share of weird songs, so this hits that spot.
If you don’t like weird or strange (
why are you listening to Dempagumi.inc) this may not be your cup of tea, but I personally enjoy it. 7/10
12. W.W.D II
Again, I wrote about this at my end of the year stuff, so this will be a bit shorter. W.W.D II is a well-paced epic of a song, with a lot of energy and a lot of heart. It has the emotion of some of Dempa’s best as well as the energy of their other best songs. It’s an epic of a song, and one of the finest things to come out of 2013’s idol music scene. 10/10
13. Orange Rium
Oh man, I love the opening to Orange Rium too much. The arrangement of Orange Rium is one of my favorite bits of the song; the piano sounds lovely whenever it shows up, and there’s so much excellent stuff going on. And there’s a reason this stands out; as I found out from twitter recently, the guy who arranged this also wrote a lot of my favorite idol songs including Pera Pera Perao, Gingham Check and Kiss no Sono Oto.
But this is another sweeter, softer side to Dempagumi.inc, a side that I’m growing more and more fond of. While it’s easy to be drawn in by Dempagumi.inc’s weirdness, their songs are just well-written and good, and Orange Rium is yet another one of those examples.
This is really quite pretty, and pleasant. While the melody is nice, the arrangement is where Orange Rium shines. 9/10
14. Tsuyoi Kimochi Tsuyoi Ai
Oh man, the disco influence in this. I love it. Even though the song itself isn’t as disco-y as some of the other things that have come out as of late, this is probably one of the best arrangements of a song using that kind of influence. Aaand it was done by Hyadain. Of course.
This is another song that stands out most for the arrangement; I mean, I love how broad the melody is in the chorus, but the arrangement stands out more than anything to me. I’m not familiar with the original song, but while it sets up a good base the arrangement makes it much more worthwhile.
Thiough not quite as revolutionary as Sabotage, Dempagumi.inc’s other cover is certainly good. 7/10
15. Den Den Passion
Den Den Passion not getting on my top 25 songs of the year is a pretty big regret. It’s a great song, and one I love, but it doesn’t quite have the weight of either W.W.D. Den Den Passion being sandwiched between W.W.D and W.W.D II was a bit unfortunate, because it’s just so easy to forget how nice it is. It’s high energy and very fun, but at the same time it’s fairly restrained in structure. It feels like a typical idol song, polished and given a weird coat of paint to make it fitting for Dempagumi.inc.
That’s not to say it’s bad; it’s great. It’s wonderful. It’s just not quite as unique as the others, which I think adds to the tendency to forget about it. But Den Den Passion is great, and feels like a fitting cap to this album. 9/10
OVERALL: This is a really great album. I love how the songs flow together; there’s a sense that there was actual thought and care that went into putting the songs together, which I always appreciate. I liked every song at least a little, and I straight up love most songs. This album really proves that Dempagumi.inc has some of the best music in the idol business, perhaps just THE best.
The biggest disappointment to me is just how few new songs that Dempagumi.inc had on this album. I understand that they wanted to get everything on there, and I appreciate that they didn’t make the album bloated and unlistenable. However, three new songs (and an intro) for an album of this length is frustrating.
Despite the frustration at the lack of new material, this is a very strong album and one that I highly recommend.