After coming off Gisshiri Haguki, a monster of an album brimmed with genre-blending and addictive Jpop goodness, despite being hyped, I was also a bit worried whether she would be able to be as adventurous and keep up with her fiery momentum on her major debut. Needless to say, just upon initial listens, it turns out Chiaki is nowhere near her limit in terms of stylistic creativity.

The production sounds more polished than ever – the number of instruments in the mix seems higher, the bass feels more prominent, the vocal effects on Chiaki and the synth choices are prime, and I loved how samples are sprinkled so tastefully in certain tracks – clearly, there’s substantial work put into each track, since they sound well-fleshed-out in terms of their presentation of their musical ideas. But Chiaki rarely uses the quality of the instrumental backdrop as a crutch, rather she doesn’t need to, because her eccentric personality and stylistic vocal range remain as charismatic as ever.

Despite being a 16-track album, track-to-track playback rarely feels plodding because of the smooth variation between the songs, and the genre blending within the tracks themselves. It still amazes me how much musical influences Chiaki draws from and makes them her own. A notable example would be Queeeeeeeeeen, where the song goes through five phases seamlessly, the drumming tempo is key to that, along with Chiaki’s fluid stylistic vocal variation leading the way; especially the way a choir backed the bridge section and the rapping in the tail-end of the track. That’s another thing – Chiaki seems to rap with adaptability in the hip-hop segments in the album. Like in Hechimade Karada Aratteru where she puts on a punk attitude in her flow to mesh with the cranky guitar, and in the verse sections of Teeth of Peace where Chiaki goes on storyteller mode to set up her feelings about making a dentist appointment.

It’s unfortunate I don’t have a proper source of translations for her lyrics, especially for tracks like Ojisan – the way Chiaki’s vocals get more and more emotionally riveting throughout this ballad makes me curious as what the story is behind this uncle. Gero is an example of Chiaki’s creative and absurd songwriting tics, it is an uplifting anthem about how vomiting is a de-stressing moment after a hard-day’s work. I know that because the lyrics is short and Google Translate doesn’t suck as much with short sentences.

Of course, Chiaki’s exciting, danceable tracks aren’t missing. The opener, Homerareteru!, is a chirpy start with an edge of the idol’s bubbly humor. Kiseki Kaminoko Tensaiken! is another infectiously catchy odd-rhythmic track, which I read somewhere that it was inspired by Polysics’ music, so that sort of explains the new wave punk-ish vibe of the song. Ogikubo Senshuken features great percussion and bass lines. I love the transition into a dramatic bridge near the 2-minute mark backed by this drone guitar, but then it jumps back to the bustling pace of the track. Speaking of great bass lines, Kaikoukuda showcases another example of such, this time with a crunchier sound to it, along with Chiaki putting bravado in her singing to make the track have this picturesque, adventurous vibe to it. It sounds pretty filmic.

With Piccolo Insect, Chiaki brings back her free-flowing singing and the piano after the intro still feels fresh after all these listens. Kakioroshi Shudaika features some interesting synth sampling in the intro and bridge sections of the song and has a nice synth encompassing the chorus – it’s a great song that acts as a bridge from the cranky Hechimade Karada Aratteru to the heavy-sounding Ojisan.

If there was one song where I am not all that positive on, it’s Bravo. Yes, it’s a fan favorite and I have seen live sets (on Youtube) where she starts with this song, it sounds nice there. It’s just that in the context of how flavorful each other track is on the album, the instrumentals in this song are kind of flat – the bass and percussion isn’t as present, and the grainy guitar in the verse section distracts me from Chiaki’s vocals. The second half of the song spices it up a bit with some break beat but that’s about it. Still, I find the chorus to be catchy. On the other hand, Nandakke? is a song that seems to be cut from the same cloth, but the track is embroidered with fun snippets of sampled synths that keep changing with each phase of the song. I think this version of Bravo would have a more flavorful and fuller sound if it had something else backing the grainy guitar.

Mayumura also presents more introspective-sounding tracks. As in Yoyogi Kouen, a slow beat narrative piece where the light layering of two vocal tracks give off a nice nocturnal feel to the song. Honki no Lovesong is another nocturnally toned ballad, but there’s a warmth of yearning in her vocal delivery that makes it a fulfilling listen. And this album ends on a heartfelt note with Daijoubu, which features one of the most compelling vocal performances from Chiaki in the album. From rough translations it seems she’s reflecting on her improvisational approach to making and performing songs and she expresses her gratitude to people to stuck by her despite her insecurities (feel free to correct me in the comments). It’s song that seems to have a beautiful sentiment behind it.

All in all, this is yet another refreshingly dynamic powerhouse of an album from her; it’s as if the different colors on her hair in the album cover indicates the different shades of musical styles in the album. I would call this a meja success. She put her best foot forward with this one, and I hope she keeps on experimenting with more styles, explore even more absurd songwriting ideas and continue being the invigorating, bohemian musician she is in the Jpop idol scene.

Okay, I think that’s enough gushing. I was originally planning to put this in May’s music roundup, but I overwrote, clearly. I’ll be back with the roundup tomorrow, probably, it’s almost done.