The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

April

Artist: Round Table Feat. Nino
Album: April
Musicians: Katsutoshi Kitagawa, Rieko Ito, Nino
Composer/Lyricist: No Idea
Release Date: 23 Apr 2003

April – Round Table Feat. Nino
Tracklisting: 01. Let Me Be With You
02. Dancin’ All Night
03. Beautiful
04. New World
05. Day By Day
06. Birthday
07. Book End Bossa
08. Where Is Love
09. Today
10. In April
11. Love Me Baby
12. Let Me Be With You (New Step Mix)
*Bold titles–Recommended listening

OVERVIEW

From my experiences, Round Table seems to be a band that’s easily recognized, without any real recognition. Allow me to clarify: though they have performed several popular anime OP/EDs, the actual songs by the band often pass under the radar. Many people probably can easily recognize the music as a familiar opening theme song, but rarely does Round Table get any credit. Despite the receiving less credit than they’re due, the band still has the ability to blend seamlessly into their music, which is perhaps one of their greatest talents. There is no “house sound” of Round Table. Instead, their excellent musicianship and genius songwriting creates songs that have no imprint of their respective authors; each song seems to exist as a standalone work with exceptional quality. With respect to individual songs, this is an amazing attribute – though, this doesn’t bring a lot attention to the band. With album releases, however, the situation becomes a little more complicated. Every song on the album feels like an independent release. While this calls for an astoundingly high level of quality in each song, the album loses fluidity in the grand scope. This doesn’t necessarily ruin the album; however, it does require the album to be enjoyed in a different way. When this outlook is taken into consideration, the reward of outstanding workmanship in the music definitely outweighs the loss in smoothness in regards to the album structure.

THE GOOD

Beautiful
The complexity of this piece continues to astound me every time I listen to this album. Several wind, brass, and string instruments are used simultaneously to create a fluid sea of sound that causes excellent immersion in the song. Most songs with this level of complexity suffer from creating a mishmash of noises that eventually leads to the song clashing horribly. However, Round Table expertly manages the different tones and sounds in the song, allowing each to have its own distinct presence without any becoming overbearing. Miraculously, Nino’s voice manages to rise above the sea of music, focusing the melody and giving the piece completeness. True appreciation of this song takes some critical listening, but the effort is well worth it, and the meticulous composition taken with this song becomes readily apparent if given the chance.

Where is Love
A very slow song, Where is Love manages to create an interesting R&B song that retains its own separate flavor apart from the genre. Most Japanese R&B songs are carbon-copies of their American counterparts, which result in fairly popular, but musically uninspired songs. Round Table strays from the formula of typical R&B songs and blends it with pop tunes and acoustic-electric guitar mixes to create a unique song that defies traditional genres. The result is a fusion of individual rhythms that create a melancholy and reminiscent tone. The song does suffer from a small amount of engrish, which admittedly is not Nino’s strong suit; however, that minor flaw is easily forgotten within the smooth melody of the song.

THE BAD

Book End Bossa
This song was seemingly thrown in to appeal to fans of the anime Chobits, as this track is featured many times as an interlude in the anime. Though it may blend well with the anime series, as a standalone this track suffers from being overly repetitive, excessively annoying, and having an obnoxiously one-note vocal track that repeats ad infinitum. Despite the blatant annoyingness of this song, it is forgivable as being an interlude track and thus does not hurt the overall rating of the album. Despite this, Book End Bossa is a song that should be skipped over immediately when listening to April.

Birthday
Many of Round Table’s tracks are extremely lighthearted and happy, and usually this tone lends itself well to the band’s style. Birthday, however, is an example of when the happy tone is taken too far. The techno track, along with the high synthesizer notes and the excessively sugary lyrics, take the tone way too far to the point of tonal nausea. The song isn’t performed poorly, and its workmanship is as high as any other on the album is. Despite this, the tone completely kills the track – Round Table is really best when they stay away from techno. Thankfully, the track number is right before Book End Bossa, which makes both tracks easy to skip on a playlist or CD player.

The Rating: 8
8/10

Reviewed by: royal crown

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