To the point: LEVEL 3 is the best Perfume album yet. The record is a perfect balance between mainstream pop/dance and sophisticated electronica.
Clockwork is amongst the best tracks on the album. It has a hypnotic, inviting melody, thread with sweet, girly voices of A-chan, Kashiyuka and Nocchi. All this wrapped in a fuzzy layer of synth will get you coming back for more.
The album opens with Enter the Sphere, which sounds like the essence of Capsule’s trippy electro sound in a kaleidoscope… and then it sounds like a battle theme from Final Fantasy 7 for a moment. Edgy and very ‘right now’.
Another bright gem is Party Maker. It’s a terrific party anthem and really deserves its name. Made up of Nakata’s staple, driving beat and tied with just a few vocal lines into an uplifting ball of energy. This really isn’t pop anymore and that’s exactly the secret of Perfume’s success – the fact that their music is pushing the edges of what we consider to be ‘pop’ or ‘mainstream’ by truly creative use of voice processing, vocoder and layering.
1mm is used as the main track promoting LEVEL 3 and has everything that a Perfume song should have, catchy chorus, dance-inducing beat and sparkling synthesiser. All this in a slightly cold setting. Through processed vocals, lyrics show a human touch as they capture the feeling of being helplessly ‘not yet ready’.
Fans will appreciate the comeback of their favourite singles in a new form or remixes. Spring of Life (Album-mix) now has an extended intro that starts with, what was previously the interlude. It’s also tweaked with beats here and there to make it more club-friendly.
Magic of Love (Album-mix), on the other hand is worse than the original and sounds a bit flat. The cheesy ‘trumpet’ and a lighter edit makes it sound like a soundtrack to OutRun. Still, it’s heaps better than Mirai no Museum / 未来のミュージアム – the only downside of this album. Stuck in the middle of the tracklist it stands out like a sore thumb, or should I say, like a toddler in Ministry of Sound and that’s because it’s the most infantile-sounding Perfume track up to date. SKIP.
Spending all my time (Album-mix) is the best remix on the record. It sounds more restrained and structured. It gradually builds up to reveal the final chorus, which now sounds more powerful and exposed. This, gentlemen, is how you make a good remix.
We’ve also got the fan favourite b-sides, stylish and oriental Handy Man, electro-on-drugs Daijobanai / だいじょばない and dreamy Point / ポイント. There’s also Sleeping Beauty, a track which resembles Butterfly, with its hypnotically looped melody and little lyrics. Simple but full of atmosphere.
LEVEL 3 ends with Dream Land, which fits nicely into an ending. Mysterious and a little sad. The album really shows many shades of Perfume and, unlike all the pop artists who jump the ‘electro’ bandwagon ‘because it’s in right now’ Perfume (or Nakata) take it to another level and show real creativity beneath the synth and vocoders. LEVEL 3 is the best electro-pop album so far this year.