Several weeks ago, we were given a listen to Perfume’s long-awaited new single “Mirai no Museum,” a tie-in to the latest Doraemon movie installment. The pleasantly shibuya-kei esque tune rang with enough vgm-esque bleeps and bloops, winding lead melodies and subtle bass swells that most found themselves caught in a dizzying daydream, reflecting peacefully on the earlier days of Perfume.
However, “Mirai…” still felt somewhat fleeting. Much like the Doraemon brand that the song tied into, there was a sense of what to expect already. The story and the structure was comforting because of its familiarity, but because of that familiarity, the song resonated as rather stale.
Utilizing a familiar sound isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but to succeed off of past efforts, one has to either fine-tune that sound even further, or bring something entirely new to the table. “Mirai…” really doesn’t do either, and because of Nakata’s prolific output and wealth of produced artists, one can only feel that Perfume was given the short end of his creativity, and that artists such as Pamyu Pamyu have perhaps received a much more focused effort on Nakata’s part.
While Pamyu Pamyu in musical terms may simply be a rehash of Nakata’s earlier works, such as his music with Coltemonikha or Nagisa Cosmetic, nobody seems to mind, but with a group such as Perfume, who has a much more emotionally attached fan base, it’s hard not to notice a sound that has seemed to diminish over the past several years.
Although Nakata has tried to utilize new sounds in Perfume’s catalog, much of it seems to end up just polarizing Perfume’s fan base, such as last year’s single, “Spending all my time,” which many deemed as either forced or containing too many elements of Western pop music.
This thought now transitions to the b-side to “Mirai…,” which is entitled “Daijobanai.” What stands out most in the song are the brief moments of “dubstep wobbles.” It’s certainly not offensive on any level, but it feels uncomfortable as it seems like such sounds were placed in there merely to retain a sense of freshness to a song that is otherwise really quite typical for Perfume.
“Daijobanai” holds a sense of repetition that lacks any dynamic intuition, and feels much more like looping background music. One can try to cut the song slack for being a b-side, but for the most part, many of Perfume’s b-sides in the past have been some of their strongest works (“Seventh Heaven,” “Fake It,” etc.).
Altogether, both “Mirai no Museum” and “Daijobanai” aren’t bad by any means, they aren’t particularly memorable. They possess a comforting familiarity, but unfortunately, that isn’t enough to make a song have lasting appeal.
Perfume fans seem to be split into an odd way at the moment. Some choose to be faithful, loving everything they put out. Some have given up, moved on, or are at the moment, skeptic of the future. Some are new to the group, and with a fresh mindset they embrace it all on an equal level. But for those who have been faithful to the group for so long, it is a bit disheartening. Of course no musician is ever obligated to produce what his or her fans desire most, and said musician most likely has no way of even telling what that “desire” is. However, as Nakata continues to produce music for other groups and artists that continue to break boundaries and tackle dance floors, one wonders why is it that Perfume seems to be left behind? Not only the sound, but the feel has seemed to be lost as well, with Perfume’s music continuing to sound more and more like a heartless effort left in a safe place, rather than the focused and thriving source of passion it once was.