Not sure how this release passed me by — this being the Foremost English Language PINK CRES Blog, and all — but I’m glad I found it.
I’m happy to report that PINK CRES has finally arrived to the current day music scene! After two full albums of mostly re-hashed 3rd-wave Kpop, our girls have traveled home to a decidedly Japanese pop sound with the astounding “Tokyo Confusion”. What we have here is EDM, but with a really dark under current that, while it channels 1983 New Wave, is absolutely contemporary. It definitely has a New Wave vibe, though, in the same way that Orange Caramel songs and videos feel of being from a different era despite being fresh. Dirty secret: you could simplify this instrumental to something more group-appropriate, and it would seamlessly fit in with Orange Caramel’s catalog. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone I said that!
This here arrangement is dense, though, and very Japanese in its execution and choice of employed sounds. Odd harmonies delivered via vocoder, well-placed stutters, eerie synths, and even a traditional kokyū during the instrumental break; there are a lot of things going on, and much of it is drenched in DUB levels of reverb. This is basically psychedelic EDM, which might not work so well were it presented any more seriously than this is, which is to say, not serious at all.
I’d say the girls sound great, but their tracks are pretty heavily processed, albeit in a good way that befits the recording. Much of the AutoTune is used for effect, which masks just how much it’s being used overall. Yuuka finally gets a turn in the driver’s seat leading the verses, and she doesn’t sound the least bit out of place. There’s no jarring difference in timber between her verses and Miyabi’s choruses. Honestly, PINK CRES is blessed in that each of the girls’ voices blends well with the others. Hikaru chips in with another well-delivered rap, so all of the girls get ample face time.
Musically, “Tokyo Confusion” keeps you on your toes, or if you’re sitting down, on the edge of your seat. I love how the creepy verses create an unsettled feeling to set up the driving, catchy chorus, and how the chorus releases most of the tension, but not all of it. The melody will stick with you like a spent dryer sheet, so just go ahead and put it on repeat.
The video is cut-rate, but again, in a good way. It squeezes every yen out of it’s small, single-set budget. The use of multiple costumes; the smart, surgically precise costume-changing quick-cuts; the deft use of special effects (like matching video stutters to audio stutters); and the way these things fit the feel of the music all serve to allow this clip to live well above its tax bracket. As an all-encompassing package of sound and video, “Tokyo Confusion” is about as complete as it gets.
The coupling track, “Uchuu no Onna wa Amakunai”, is more conventional, but carries a similar vibe as “Tokyo Confusion”. It’s not nearly as successful, though, and this video’s low-budget is annoying, although the effects during Hikaru’s rap are pretty sweet. It’s a good B-side, but nothing special.
Ultimately, no B-side can detract from the fact that “Tokyo Confusion” is the best Up-Front associated release of 2019 so far, and that’s saying a lot, as this has been a really good year. This genre suits PINK CRES so damned well because it feels fun without being childish, and cool without being too serious. Mostly, though, it’s fresh! More of this, please. Much, much more.