Special Favorite Music - Nowadays
Nowadays, more than ever, people look back fondly on the past, the 60’s, the Showa era, as a time when things were somehow more innocent and virtuous. When people genuinely trusted one another, encounters were honest, and transactions were made in good faith.
Such a time may never have existed. Then or now.
Listening to Special Favorite Music, you wouldn’t know otherwise. Like the sweet hand drawn girl that adorns their album covers, the images they conjure are straight out of old fashioned Ghibli fantasy – huge white clouds in big blue skies, the wind flowing through the bright green grass, journeys through the countryside, and above all, the tension between young boys and girls. There’s a purity and innocence in it that seems totally at odds with the world these days. Sound wise it’s in the realm of chamber pop/orchestral pop, with seven members including full time members for sax/flute and violin/viola, elevated by the interplay between male and female vocal leads.
With this kind of music (especially if your aim is to be romantic), there’s a fine line to walk. If you try to be cute or melodramatic, it becomes contrived or fake. If you revel too much in the musicianship, it becomes elitist and inaccessible. If you’re trying to make it epic, your ambition may outweigh your talent.
My guess is these guys aren’t thinking that hard. They truly are pure of heart, the songs recalling that special summer where you stayed out at the beach with your crush all night until dawn (“Summer Gifted”), when you struggle to connect even though your feelings are so certain (“SURELY”), and they make the happiest farewell ever (“今日の日はさよなら”) – it sounds more like a country festival dance than a tearful goodbye...or maybe a hero's farewell after good has triumphed over evil.
At the same time, these aren't fuzzy reverb memories of a bygone era, the sounds are clean and crisp, grounding it firmly in the present (#nofilter). In fact, the singing sounds more confident than in past albums, which gives the emotions greater conviction and the stories more believable.
While I’m a jaded old man and such memories (real or imagined) are distant to me now, I’m happy that at least some people out there are able to experience, express and share these beautiful feelings. In the way that love makes you feel like you could go anywhere and do anything ("ゆびさき"), an encounter with Special Favorite Music similarly has the potential to take you away from here to somewhere truly magical.
3. Summer Gifted