Single review: “Tokohana” by Nagi Yanagi

Nagi Yanagi is a Japanese singer-songwriter from Kansai, Japan and is signed to Geneon. She is known for performing as a guest singer for the band supercell from 2009-2011. Tokohana is her 8th single.

Release date: 4th of June, 2014

Track list:
1. Tokohana
2. Wasurenai Tame ni
3. Crossroad
4. Tokohana (instrumental)
5. Wasurenai Tame ni (instrumental)
6. Cross Road (instrumental)

1. Tokohana
Other-worldly chanting is laid against the background of melancholic strings, forming a sort of eerie veil before this quiet, reflective sadness shatters into pieces with the forceful sound of insistent electric guitar strumming, steady drumming and beautiful violin melodies. As Nagi begins to sing the first verse, I feel quite disappointed to hear that she’s sounding rather monotone, despite her being totally capable of properly conveying the appropriate emotions that this song holds within. The arrangement is stripped down for the pre-chorus in order to maximise the dramatic increase in energy that the chorus presents, beginning with a heavy drop of rock-based instruments, and, unfortunately, more of Nagi’s vocals which lack a certain emotional spark. Don’t get me wrong though, I can acknowledge Nagi’s technical prowess and her ability to hit notes seamlessly, but she does not seem to be invested in this song as much as I’d like her to be. The chorus following the bridge seems to be slightly intensified in nature to function as the climax of the song, but it might have been due to Nagi’s rise in pitch at the end of the bridge that could have created that illusion. Not too sure. To conclude, Tokohana is an example of both great things and missed opportunities, but it contains the flickering sparks of what could have made it better.

2. Wasurenai Tame ni
A slow, simple yet tasteful piano melody begins to play, stopping at intervals to welcome the distant echoes of light, ambient, new age-esque sounds. Nagi begins to sing softly, using her talents to evoke a sense of being delicate and fragile on the exterior, but very much full of promise underneath. Her voice is muffled at times, which contributes a sort of call-and-response effect when juxtaposed and followed with her regular, melodic singing. Once the chorus rolls around, percussion is added to the mix, and Nagi’s vocals are exceptionally touching and sweet, further enhanced by layers of background harmonies. A single synthy line floats along the surface and makes its way across as Nagi begins to sings the second verse, which contains a noteworthy feature of an accompanying marching beat that is oddly still low-key enough to keep the peace. Towards the end of the song, the vocals and arrangement are given equal spotlight; neither are above the other, but rather, they are alongside each other in perfect unison. It is true that Wasurenai Tame ni is somewhat plain of a track, but simplicity can sometimes be quite pleasant.

3. Crossroad
The last track begins with a quick intro of a lively piano melody and acoustic guitar plucking, and with a single breath and a deep rushing sound, Nagi’s familiar vocals enter, sounding slightly airy and gentle in nature. The introduction of percussion allows things to pick up, and suddenly, her vocals become clearer, confident and more pronounced. The simultaneous halt of both the singing and the instrumental during the pre-chorus is interesting in an upbeat song such as this, as listeners might find themselves waiting attentively for just that moment to hear the song continue on. The chorus arrives just before you know it, giving the song a celebratory sort of vibe with its bright, uplifting quality. Honestly, there isn’t much to say about this song besides what has just been mentioned, since much of it screams “average pop song”, even if it’s sung by Nagi.

For the sake of comparison to Nagi’s two other rock-based A-sides, Zoetrope seems to be the perpetual topper, followed by the school food punishment-esque Laterality, and Tokohana in third place at the moment. That being said, the A-side is still quite good, but it’s lacking in some areas, which stops it from being of the same quality as its predecessors. Wasurenai Tame ni is a simple and decent track and happens to be the better B-side because Crossroad is way too poppy and ordinary for me. This single is a satisfactory effort overall for me, nothing more.

Rating: 3/5

 

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2 thoughts on “Single review: “Tokohana” by Nagi Yanagi

  1. Nice review Moira! Not really much I can say lol. I thought the guitars in Tokohana were mixed a bit loud and felt overpowering, and I’m a little disappointed that intro’s chanting etc. wasn’t utilised later in the song, but I pretty much find myself agreeing with your criticisms. (Your writing keeps on getting better too :-))

    • Thank you :)

      Yeah, it was kind of overkill to have the guitars that loud and distorted. I didn’t actually think of it too much while reviewing it, but afterwards, my ears felt really weird and I realised it was because of the guitars after listening to it again, lol. As for the chanting, that was exquisite, and yes, there should have been more. (I wonder what she was saying though…)

      Aw, thanks. I’m glad >.<

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