JNL Team presents: The Monthly Review

What is TMR (The Monthly Review)? At the start of every month JNL Team will pick a random album and/or single that was released in Japan and review it.

June 2016 review.

Album/Single: THE SHOWCASE

Artist: LEAD

Review by: Mariëlle

 LEAD is back this year with their first album since 2012, and it is called THE SHOWCASE. The handsome three-member group is ready to bring the summer to your house with the new 15 track album. The album was released on the 8th of June, and came in a regular edition and 3 limited editions.

Out of the 15 tracks, 8 songs are from singles they released over the past few years. This gives us 7 entirely new songs to enjoy!

Are you ready for some Summer Madness?

The first track on the album is Loud! Loud! Loud! This is a very funky song, and reminded me of the ‘disco’ songs. It’s quite catchy and refreshing to listen to, and quite different in style from their older releases. The lyrics were written by Keita, while the rap was written by Shinya. Knowing two of the members helped writing the words makes this song so much more interesting to listen to.

The second track, Let’s Get On It, is also a song that reminded me of western songs from the past (think 80’s / 90’s). It’s very nice

Zoom Up is the third song on the album, and seems to be the main track. This is a very exciting song, and uses more autotune than I’m used to from LEAD. It’s a great song, and uses a lot of camera references, such as ‘come into focus’, and, of course, ‘zoom! Zoom! Zoom! zoom up!’. They even mention the woman they’re interested in is photogenic. It’s very clever and the way it’s mixed into the lyrics, add a lot of catchiness as well.

At first it took some time for me to get used to the song, but half way through, I was sold. The music video uses a lot of lights, and I suggest you do not watch it if you’re sensitive to flashes of light or have epilepsy.

Watch the MV for Zoom Up here:

Stand by me is badass from start to finish. At first I expected a ballad, but it’s not even remotely close to one. The beat is great and fits the song fantastically. The rapping is amazing, and gives the song a rougher edge. The lyrics to the song were written by Shinya.

The fifth track on the list is Still a single released on 12/12/2012 – we see what you did there, LEAD. Back then, Hiroki had not yet graduated from the group. Still is a beautiful song, and while it’s catchy, it’s also encouraging. The song talks about how you need to keep taking steps forward, even if your pace is slow, and how, if you want, it’s never too late to change. Fust open your wings and FLY AWAY. The members of LEAD wrote the lyrics to the song together.

Watch the MV for Still here:

After Still we have My One, another title track of a separate single. My One was released in 2015. This is one of the most relaxing (yet still catchy) songs on this album. I really love the low voice and rapping of Shinya in this song. It really stands out more than it usually does, and melts well with Keita’s unique and Akira’s silvery voices.

Watch the video for My One here:

Amazing is the seventh track on the album. Wow, just wow. This song is absolutely above all my expectations in terms of vocals and music. It’s so beautiful, and definitely one of my favorite songs on the album. The title really does the song justice, in all possible meanings of the word. On top of that, the lyrics for this song were written by Akira!

The 8th track on the album is サクラ (Sakura), which is a standalone single, released in 2014. This super catchy song sounds like a Sunnyday, not only does the song give of a ‘summer’ vibe, but the music video also made me think of Summer.

From what I could understand when I read the translated lyrics, the song is about the warmth they feel when they think about a person they love(d), and the smiles and tears that came with that relationship. The Sakura remind them of this person and the memories they have.

Watch the video for サクラ (Sakura) here:

約束 (Yakusoku; Promise) is the 9th track, and also a single released in 2015. Compared to most of the other songs on this album, sounds a lot less cheerful, despite it not sounding ‘sad’ or ‘depressing’. It’s a very beautiful song about as the title suggests, promises. Just like Loud! Loud! Loud!, the words to the rap were written by Shinya.

Watch the video for 約束 (Yakusoku; Promise) here:

Next up is Game. Game is a playful and tougher song, a bit more similar in style Stand by me. It’s a really fun song with a catchy tune. The music is refreshing to listen to, and their voices keep up with the fast style.

志~KO.KO.RO.ZA.SHI. is the 11th track on the album. It’s a very catchy song with a great chorus. This song is sure to be stuck in your head after you listen to it. And I felt really cheerful and content after hearing it for the first time.

想い出ブレイカー (Omoide Breaker; Memory Breaker) is another title track from an earlier single. It was released in September 2014. 想い出ブレイカー (Omoide Breaker; Memory Breaker) is a fantastic and memorable song, that’s easy on the ears.

Watch the short video for 想い出ブレイカー (Omoide Breaker; Memory Breaker) here:

GREEN DAYS, is the 13th track on the album. The song was released as a single called GREEN DAYS / strings in 2013. GREEN DAYS is an upbeat and bright song., with a super catchy tune. The chorus will bring some COLOR to your life.

Watch the video for GREEN DAYS here:

Next up is Stand up Action. This is a nice change of pace from the other songs on this album. It feels a tad old in style and reminds me of a fun commercial song of some kind. But it’s a great song, and definitely worth listening to.

And last but not least, Upturn! Upturn is the name of LEAD’s live concerts, as well as a single released in 2013. This is a very happy-sounding, yet touching song. From the moment it starts playing, and as the song progresses, you feel yourself become more at ease with your surroundings. As the title suggests, the song is about hope and turning things around for the better, and I personally feel the song really does portray this feeling well.

One thing that bothers me a teeny bit is how the members pronounce ‘the upturn’ at the end of the song. However, I can understand English is not their first language, and it can be hard to pronounce if you’re not used to speaking English. Yet I do feel that if you use English in a song, you need to be able to pronounce those words properly, especially if it’s the title of your song.

Watch the video for Upturn here:

I love how the members all worked hard to participate in writing lyrics to the songs on this album. Especially Shinya seems to have really gotten into lyrics the past few years. Writing lyrics is super difficult, so knowing they put so much effort into making this album work gives off a great feeling. This album will NOT disappoint new listeners, and is a total treat to existing fans of the group. LEAD did a great job with this album, and I know everyone can appreciate the hard work of the members.

Not only are all the songs on this album immensely catchy – as I mentioned about a million times already – but the lyrics are also amazing. On top of that, LEAD’s dance moves are on point as always. As you can see in the MV’s I have linked, the dances are really awesome and fun to watch.

All in all, I believe this album is great for both old and new fans. If you’re looking for some nice songs sung by good-looking men to listen to this summer, I strongly suggest you buy this album. LEAD is a fantastic group, and they always bring something fresh to the table.

If you’re interested in buying LEAD’s new album THE SHOWCASE, then click the links below:

Regular Edition

Limited Edition Type A

Limited Edition Type B

Limited Edition Type C

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2 thoughts on “TMR: LEAD – THE SHOWCASE

  1. Thank you for your review! I fall in love with this album since I bough it on ITunes. There also was bonus track “I don’t give a damn”.
    And in addition, talking about “Amazing”. Akira not only wrote the lyrics, but he is also composed this song. He always makes so beautiful sound. Almost my favourite are “Until..” and “I’m here for you”.


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