A few weeks ago, our pal dofphoto was like, “I can do reviews” and I was like “show me” and he was like “okay.” I’m not rescinding the
pleasure responsibility necessarily, but I also know that other folks have a tendency to get music that I don’t, and Homicidols.com is nothing if not service-oriented. And so, after some negotiating, here’s dofphoto!
I have a long fan history with Party Rockets. In particular, Yoshiki Haruka. From the dark back part of the stage, Haruka stepped out into the light and took control of what could have been an international rock/pop group. Unfortunately, the trend for graduations within the Party Rockets camp left Haruka and Fumika abandoned to the point that Fumika publicly cried, voicing uncertainty about the future of their beloved group and the fantastic songs they would leave behind.
Well Haruka wasn’t about to go down without a fight. In what seemed to be the slow march to obscurity for Party Rockets, Haruka openly pleaded to management for group auditions to try and revive the passion of devoted fans. Right out of the gate, what did we get? The “should have been” star recruit graduated after one live, but that’s the bad news. PRGT dusted themselves off and went full force into 2016. With seven new original songs (some great, some okay) It seemed this climb was the fresh start Haruka and Fumika needed to get back to the war.
All that out of the way, lets dissect the first full-length album from Party Rockets GT.
- Imagine love song: Right out of the gate, BAD CALL — it’s fine to cover an old song, but to start your brand new LP with that song? And what’s worse, change the song construction? For the most part, this cover is acceptable, but it lacks punch. The outro sounds like five girls reading the late menu at a 24-hour burger shop.
- Beautiful Dreamer: Here we go! Brand new PRGT! Well, it’s new, but we are served up an uninspired first verse and mellow chorus which had me reaching for the smelling salts. But somewhere in the middle of this track you can smell the fire start to burn; it’s almost as if Nanase and Ayumi started to feel the urgency of what’s on the line here, and, boy, do they step up their game. I listened to this three times in a row to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.
- Hatsukoi Rocket: The debut single by Party Rockets covered, nothing could go wrong here right? Well, thankfully not! PRGT embraces the history of this song and gives their all. A little effect on the first verse helps propel the chorus out of the park — if PRGT does one thing well, it’s harmonize, and when they all gather for a chant, it’s one of the special moments idol has to offer (see pre-2016 Dorothy Little Happy for the how-to guide).
- Nijiro Jet: We have all heard this, the PRGT debut that gave me faith we had our group back. Fun verses and catchy choruses.
- You are too fond of living to live: I may be wrong, but this sounds like Haruka, Fumika and Himeka stepping out into the spotlight for some rocking lighthearted fun. This song works on every level. Great simplistic rock riffs, cute vocals (okay, KAWAII), very catchy through and through. At the middle of this kool-aid party is a hidden gem. From 1:55-2:18 is a transition so wonderful, I can’t believe it wasn’t yanked out, fleshed out and fashioned into a new song. Someone noticed it enough to use the framework as the outro as well — this is the PRGT I want to hear more of.
- By the numbers cover of “Rainbow”. . .
- Everyday Dreamer: By-the-numbers cover of “Nichijou Dreamer.” Maybe to note on this song, Nanase has a chance to stretch that voice a little. Nanase is not Akari, but she shows some promise.
- Ageha Ima: By-the-numbers cover of “Ageha Ima?” Nope! Ayumi comes out of nowhere to belt this tune into submission. Ayumi is my least favorite PRGT member, but she can surprise me often with her voice, when used on the right songs.
- Revolutionary Sensation: B-side to Type B version of “Manatsu no Maji Rocket,” “Kakumei Sensation” holds firm and gives us that hope that PRGT will continue forward with intensity and desire.
- Initial is F hope: This is the one I have been waiting for. My favorite track on this album — why, you may ask? Well, because Party Rockets left us with “Kasabuta” and that’s exactly where I wanted PRGT to pick up. It took seven other songs to get here but, here we are. This is a mature PRGT ready to march forward to their crown. Heavy rock riffs that don’t wimp out at the chorus, solid transitions in and out of verses that give validity to the strong harmonies of five girls wanting to give their all. This track rocks start to end and should be the pole on which PRGT plants that flag. [Manaic: HELL YES!]
- Setsuna Sora: Oh boy, now we are in trouble! The song that made me a Party Rockets fan (which means I started buying their albums), covered?? I clamped down hard in my seat for this. I have to be honest, Watanabe Koume has one of the sweetest and consistent voices in idol, and I stomach the thought of anyone else opening this track, so as serviceable as this cover may be, I can’t stand listening to it. But that’s just an opinion, new fans will probably not care at all.
- Dream on, Dreamers: The mature PRGT is back! And I love it! It may not be as explosive as “Initial is F hope,” but it’s the framework being utilized and I won’t knock it. Hopefully, the PRGT camp will realize how good these two tracks are and leave the past in the past.
- Time of your life: Is it over? Oh, thank god! Whose idea was this? Did Klaus Mein hold PRGT at gunpoint and force this shittle on them? Pure garbage. Party Rockets did a couple of ballads, “Start Line” being a shining moment on Triangle for sure, but this? It sounds like Bret Michaels’s outtakes from the “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” recording sessions. Thank god the “next track” button on my car stereo fixes this mistake instantly.
So let’s wrap this up. I have never been so nice in my evaluation of anything — I had to go back and tone this review down so the children could sleep at night. Keep in mind, I am a PRGT fan and my heart is Haruka’s when she finally gives up this crazy dream of being an idol. So let me give my final thoughts on Party Rockets GT’s Time of your life. If you are a new fan, this will be in your playlist for the next few months; if you are a seasoned fan, you will probably do what I do — delete the covers, mix in the other great B-sides from the singles and be pacified till the next PRGT release.
Thanks, dofphoto! For the record, I did ask that things be kept family-friendly; I don’t mind swear words, obviously, but we do like to keep things positive around here.