Review by David Cirone
exist†trace’s 3-song single “DIAMOND” is the first release to demonstrate the band’s recent “New World” approach to their music. When songwriter/guitarist miko announced months ago that the band would restructure their stage positions to allow miko and Jyou to share the center of the stage, it signaled a bold change. “DIAMOND” doesn’t play it safe, and miko’s vocals add something fresh and energetic to the mix.
The high-energy pace of “DIAMOND” is just going to demand Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. on your music player. The dual-vocal chorus is fantastic, and the song’s heavy electronic elements are balanced by powerful drums and hard guitar riffs. miko and Jyou (who co-wrote this song together) give full-on performances, but the back and forth vocals don’t emerge as a competition — instead, they’re building layers to escalate the momentum in a way that a single vocal couldn’t. miko’s delivery carries a lot of honesty, but Jyou’s vocals are supremely confident and she delivers the heart of each song’s emotional content.
Where “DIAMOND’s” vocal parts were equally balanced, “Kuchibiru” shifts to let Jyou take leadership and frees miko to dive into the single’s strongest guitar solo. Because “Just One” leads off with straightforward bass/drum staccato, I was afraid this song would be predictable, but it’s a setup for great harmony and a beautifully elegant bridge.
The lyrics for “DIAMOND” and “Kuchibiru” contain miko’s familiar style of fantasy images, but “Just One” is much more personal, drawing on a complex relationship of hatred and affection and adding a mix of English/Japanese lyrics as a surprising touch. The song ends with bold lover’s challenge: “What’s my name? Watashi wa koko ni.” coupled with Mally’s decisively final cymbal crash. After “DIAMOND,” this is the song that stuck with me the most.
exist†trace’s recent releases have created some important milestones — the gentleness of TWIN GATE‘s “Cradle,” the complex structure of THE LAST DAYBREAK‘s “Little Mary”, the naked passion of VIRGIN‘s “Anata” — and DIAMOND brings something new yet again. It’s easy to see exist†trace is on an interesting, if unpredictable, journey of redefinition. There’s an unmistakable feeling of femininity and strength pouring out of all 3 songs on this release. I don’t know if the band’s fans can take a whole album of dual-vocal songs, and nothing can match Jyou’s intensity when she goes full force. But I think this release is sowing the seeds for an even bigger creative payoff on the horizon.