It’s been a week since the latest double A-side was released and sold more than 734,000 copies. Usually, by this time, i’d scrap this draft altogether, but i just cannot pass this review up because the title tracks continue to creep up on me. Even though it feels like i’ve listened to both songs forever now, frequent enough to make me get sick of them already. I rarely keep or loop the radio rip since i am rarely impressed by the upcoming single at that stage, but not this time.
If you’ve read my preview post of I seek/Daylight, you must have been aware of my impressions of ’em. To recap: i liked I seek and loved Daylight. Now, after putting the single on almost-infinite loop and watching the respective PVs and TV performances multiple times, i am keen on the former and obsessed with the latter. And no, this is not an exaggeration. I cannot find the right words to describe my love for the gem that is Daylight. I guess it is now safe to say that Daylight has made it to my personal all-time favorite Arashi’s singles, or even songs.
How about I seek? I really like it, for a different reason from, yet not at the same level as Daylight.
My opinions regarding the two songs still stand so i’ll try not to repeat myself here. The first thing that came to mind upon listening to the clean full versions was how much i was used to the one-half cuts that it took some time to tune to the nearly five-minute tracks. I had little issue with Daylight though couldn’t help finding the middle part of I seek rushed — the second verse feels too short and the transitions forced. The only solo part is Ohno’s before the last chorus, yet unlike his usual swoony singing, this one falls on the flat and thin side. I wonder what went wrong; it should be the highlight but ends up the weak link. It is disappointing to say the least, particularly when the vocals and harmonies in other parts are really strong. Overall, i’m fond of the zippy tunes and disco-esque beats. Not to mention the doowop! Wo-oo-oo e-o~
Likewise, i am not impressed with Daylight‘s solos. Everyone has a line in the second verse, and while me not liking every single delivery isn’t unheard of, it’s new for me not liking most of them. Ohno’s again is too thin, Sho’s too rough, Aiba’s too soft, and Jun’s too nasally. Only Nino’s sounds fine to me. The lackluster solos are quite puzzling given the noteworthy, critic-approved vocal chops in their last release, Fukkatsu LOVE. But together, their voices blend like a dream, even when using the rarer divisions (Sho/Nino/Jun and Ohno/Aiba). Especially in the bridge — due to how powerfully haunting they sound, also due to the fact that Aiba’s voice is really pronounced there. His is easily submerged that it’s a pleasant surprise to notice his tone above Nino’s and Jun’s. Another anomaly is how much i love the second chorus over the first one. It is better phrased, rolls off the tongue more easily, and is more memorable.
And then of course the Sakurap. Which becomes quite a big deal because 1) it’s been 4 years since the designated rapper flaunts his flair in a single (since 2012’s Face Down) and 2) it’s brought about by Jun’s special request — yunno…#sakumotoisreal, haha. Admittedly, it doesn’t feel that long because Sho has penned and recorded several rap parts for album tracks since then, although only a few are standouts. Still, for me an Arashi’s song isn’t entirely complete without a Sakurap, so i’m thrilled to hear one in Daylight, an exquisite one at that. The 30-second rap (yup, i do time how long a Sakurap lasts) is sweet and gentle it caresses the ears. And as if the melody and instrumentation aren’t beautiful enough, trumpet section is added in the coda (a brilliant move in my opinion), elevating it to divine status.
Like their last double A-side, 2013’s Calling/Breathless, there are three editions of I seek/Daylight so only the regular edition comes with coupling tracks. Tadaima is the theme song for Japonism Show, the group’s first Arena Tour after 9 years. Arashi has amassed a lot more following and gotten the chance to perform on much bigger venues like the domes, the national stadium, and even overseas in the last decade that going back to arenas may seem a step back. But guess what? These dorks see it as another milestone, and even dedicate a song to mark their return (because they feel bad coming back empty-handed)!
Songs for fans may have similar lyrics, but the ones from this fivesome always sound so earnest even when not penned/composed by the members themselves. (Arashi isn’t credited as the lyricist although Ohno mentioned in the round-table talk of the single that “We all put the lyrics together!”) So, Tadaima is more than a thank-you song; besides gratitude, it also conveys a feeling of nostalgia as well as apologies “for making you wait so long.” How can their long-time fans not ‘forgive’ them, especially after listening to their intention to return after they’ve gotten big enough and them looking forward to that moment they could say “tadaima” (i’m home)? Seriously, just reading the lyrics translation is enough to give me chills. I could imagine how great a feeling it is to sing “okaeri” (welcome back) to them.
Music-wise, Tadaima is close to an a capella number. The accompaniment in the first half is so serene and choir-ish you can barely hear it, which is crescendoing from the 2.5-minute mark and steadily building up toward those resonating “okaeri~” moments. *shivers* The low-key arrangement, however, allows us to be all ears for their vocals and relish their heartfelt delivery. This is the kind of vocal work i am expecting, whose quality totally makes up for the vanilla solo performances in previous tracks.
The second and last coupling track is Supersonic. From the title alone i bet we all can guess that it’s gonna be an electronic number, which has become a fixture in Arashi’s singles, it seems(?). Bad news is, it usually is a miss for me, and Supersonic is no exception. It’s not bad but not great either. When compared to the preceding tunes, Supersonic is rather forgettable. Interestingly, i actually like the karaoke version — the synth loops are something. It’s also the only 3-minute track while the others run for almost 5 minutes, which may explain why the members felt the recording for the single’s closer wrapped up quickly.
As for the PVs… I seek‘s is a lot moodier while Daylight‘s a lot darker than anticipated, in terms of tone. Despite the buoyant air I seek gives off, the lyrics are somewhat bittersweet. The atmosphere during the actual filming doesn’t vary that much from the waiting time, until they all break into a little synchronized dance. Daylight‘s PV has a lot less movement, whose concept revolves around the use of moving spot lights. But i do appreciate the produced effects. Backlit shots are the style i’m a fan of. And saying the scenes of them engulfed in light as pretty is an understatement.