Is there even such thing as a short backlog?
Hello and welcome back to another J-Music Exchange/Rate review! In case you’re not familiar with this segment, basically, me and my good friend/fellow Japanese music fan Leap250 pick out a music album from our libraries, swap ’em, listen to ’em and later review them on our respective blogs. It’s a fun little thing we’ve been doing for two whole years now, and it’s pretty much a way for us to discover and listen to brand new artists and music. Plus, we hope that it helps you, the reader, find some great songs as well!
And as always, Leap and I base our album choices on a specific theme each month, whether that be topics like hidden gems from popular artists or even albums that are great to put on when you’re studying. But for the month of June, it was my turn to pick and I ultimately came up with the idea of suggesting albums that are on our backlogs. Albums that we haven’t gotten the chance to properly finish or even start. There are certainly a ton of those that are in my library now (Leap’s got a handful as well lol) so I thought this theme would be fun to do.
With that being said, here are our choices: Leap went ahead and gave me the latest album by the peggies, The GARDEN; while I tossed over Aida Rikako’s 2020 release, Curtain raise.
Let’s jump right in!
the peggies is a Japanese all-female alt-rock trio, originating from Kawasaki, Kanagawa. The trio of Kitazawa Yuuho (Vo/Gt), Ishiwata Makiko (Ba) and Onuki Miku (Dr) originated from their time in junior high when they first met and as their friendship grew, they decided to start a band in high school and performed at live houses around Tokyo. In 2014, the peggies released their first album, goodmorning in TOKYO. But the group would get serious traction in 2015 with the release of NEW KINGDOM, where the leading song, “Glider”, became a viral hit and exceeded a million views on YouTube. Later in 2017, the band would make their official major debut with their album, Dreamy Journey, and get the opportunities to perform on radio and TV stations.
As of the date that this post was published on, the peggies have released several singles, EPs and four full-length albums. They’ve also been popular within the anime world, as the peggies have provided the opening/ending themes to various shows like Bunny Girl Senpai, Rent-A-Girlfriend, season five of My Hero Academia and Saranzanmai.
the peggies – The GARDEN
- Centimeter / センチメートル
- Dramatic / ドラマチック
- Stand by Me / スタンドバイミー
- Hello Sugar
- Door / ドア
- Ashiato / 足跡
- Anemone / アネモネ
- Sputnik (2021 ver.) / スプートニク
Leap’s Thoughts on The GARDEN
the peggies is a band that I would surmise needs no further introduction given their rise to prominence in the past couple of years as one of the most compelling Girls Pop/Rock bands to make a breakthrough and make a name for themselves in the anison scene and, quite soon thereafter, the current mainstream of Japanese music. The band also finds themselves very near and dear to my heart as being one of the first music acts that I’ve ever talked about (and even did song translations for) in my blog as well. That being said, there was a period of time where the peggies’ releases stopped showing up in my feed due to region restrictions coinciding with their being signed to Sony Music under the Epic Records Japan label, and as such (and as much as I would’ve liked to) I ended up missing out on a lot of their songs right as they were on the come up. Thus, The GARDEN to me represents a lost paradise and largely untouched era of the peggies’ music that I just have a lot of trouble entering because of the time I’ve had away from the band. I always end up feeling like I have to ease in to their music first before delving in to the album as strange as that sounds. Despite that, there’s not really a whole lot of unfamiliars in the album even for those even remotely privy to their anison offerings, and even features a re-recording of an older song of theirs (which also just so happens to be an old favorite of mine in Sputnik). It was interesting to literally hear how much the band has grown and developed in the years since I first came across them and I’m happy seeing them flourish.
Al’s Thoughts on The GARDEN
Like many others, I knew about the peggies through the songs they’ve performed for various anime series. Most notably the opening theme to the Bunny Girl Senpai anime, “Kiminosei”, which I absolutely loved and thought was a fantastic track to pair with a great show like AoButa. the peggies actually also provided the fun opening theme to a show that is currently airing in the Spring 2022 season and one I happen to be watching: “Highlight Highlight” for the CloverWorks anime Kunoichi Tsubaki no Mune no Uchi (not a huge fan of this anime but at least the OP is good lol).
That said, I think I approached this album in a more comparative manner, if that makes sense. Because of the fact that I’m a lot more used to the popular songs of the peggies, I wanted to see and compare how their other tracks are, as well as recognize their overall sound, in order to understand the similarities and differences between the two. I’m gonna assume that Leap’s doing something similar with his review (or at least, he has done something similar with a previous album review of Kobayashi Aika’s Gradation Collection) for the same reason, being that Aida Rikako is more commonly known to play/sing as a character for the popular Love Live franchise.
And from what I noticed, while I did hear a couple interesting differences throughout this album, I think the peggies do a good job of being consistent with the genres/styles they convey. I, like many other anime fans, have enjoyed their rock-heavy, fun, catchy and almost hype musical style in which they’ve shown through many anime theme songs, and I was happy to find out that a lot of tracks on The GARDEN share similar traits to those memorable opening and ending themes. Beyond the initial track of “Centimeter” (opening for Rent-A-Girlfriend) and later “Ashiato” (ending for My Hero Academia Season 5), songs like “Stand By Me” were noteworthy, with its energetic chorus and loud, rock-focused instrumental performances. Same could be said about “Hello Sugar”, as I thought the simple/classic sound of the traditional electric guitar/bass/drum combo was expressed really well in that track.
On the other hand, I also appreciated the varying directions the band went with some of the songs on this album. There’s almost like a ‘musical interlude’ towards the middle of the album, with how a couple tracks show off a pretty significant change of pace. “Door” is much, much slower while still maintaining that pure rock sound (thanks to the electric guitar solos); and “Contrast” is straight up a completely different-sounding track, having a more ‘dreamy-like’ atmosphere to it, given that a piano is the main instrument being performed, combined with Kitazawa Yuuho’s softer vocals. Concerning the latter: according to Spotify (at least shown in the US version), “Contrast” only has 93,000 listens, making it the lowest listened track on The GARDEN. And to be honest, finding that out was pretty unfortunate. It’s a great track and a nice change of pace from the peggies’ other songs, especially on this album, and I feel like it should be appreciated more for its uniqueness in the grand scheme of this band’s discography.
And interestingly enough, there were some instances where I noticed that non-traditional instruments were being used in certain tracks such as the subtle violin-playing in “Stand By Me”, which I thought was a nice addition and fit well in most cases.
Lyric/narrative-wise: thankfully the blog Musicbox Translations translated all of the tracks on The GARDEN, so I was able to read through a bit of what was being expressed. And I saw that a good amount of the songs on this album conveyed certain romance-related themes like confidence issues, loneliness and relationship troubles, which coming from a pretty loud-sounding and rock-heavy album and band, I didn’t really expect at first (probably because I don’t understand Japanese and mostly base my impressions on the actual music/vocals rather than lyricism). But reading some lines from specific songs like “Hello Sugar”, “Contrast” and “TAIKIKEN”; all three expressing the falling out of a relationship and having a difficult time saying good-bye… it’s interesting to see the melancholic lyricism in these tracks.
And going off that, I think the superb vocals from frontwoman Kitazawa Yuuho really helped convey those narratives. Her passionate, loud and strong voice is very recognizable, especially if you’re familiar with their more well-known songs, and she does a great job showing that kind of emotion and demeanor in a lot of the tracks on this album. Even in the more mellow ones like “Door” and “Contrast”, she sounds great and has the ability to change her tone to better fit the mood of particular tracks.
Prior to listening and reviewing this album, I didn’t know a whole lot about the peggies, nor have I listened to a lot of their music. And similar to a good handful of albums Leap has given me through this Exchange/Rate segment, the main takeaway I got from The GARDEN was having the opportunity to listen to more of the peggies and better understand the kind of music they make. I’ve always loved “Kiminosei” and the great energy that track gives off, and being able to further look into this band’s music was something that I never got the chance to do. But thanks to Leap and his album rec for this month, I was able to do that.
I enjoyed hearing the familiar musical themes and styles throughout this album; songs like “Stand By Me” and “Ashiato” were fun and exciting to listen to. Even the tracks that were significantly different were also nice. And obviously, getting to hear more of Kitazawa Yuuho and her talents as a vocalist was definitely a highlight while I went through this album.
And like I’ve mentioned many times in this review, if you’ve enjoyed the OPs and EDs the peggies have performed in the past, I believe it’s worth checking out The GARDEN for more great music from this trio.
Aaaand that’s all I got for you today!
This was a fun album to listen to/review, and I hope you thought it was nice as well! the peggies are a really enjoyable band and they definitely deserve all their success/popularity.
Now that you’re done reading this review, you should go on over to Leap’s blog where he reviewed the album I gave him for this month, Curtain raise by seiyuu Aida Rikako. There’s a special/specific reason why I chose that record for him so if you’re interested, click here!
Thanks for reading!! 😀