...but not as malo as it could have been, I guess. (EAT MAH SPANGLISH!)
I'm always pretty stoked for Buono! releases. They've been some of the best stuff to come out of H!P since the group's inception. It seems, though, that since they left Pony Canyon, stuff is going downhill. I mean, don't get me wrong, I don't think they've put out a truly bad release since their comeback, but nothing has been really stellar, either.
Hatsukoi Cider is no exception, sadly, though I do believe it is their best a-side release under the zetima label.
(Sure she looks great, but...)
The opening is really promising--I'm a sucker for deceptively slow openings before the epic rocking out begins. However, Airi's voice completely ruined it for me. I'm normally a big fan of her voice, but she completely Risako'd this one. Where she could have sounded powerful and gorgeous, she sounds shouty and loud. There is a fine line between those two, and she kind of blew it this time.
I thought she would improve as the song went on, but all of her solo lines seem to have the same Blast-O-Matic 2000 quality to them.
Momoko sounds pretty solid throughout, but I do think the bridge-ish part (2:45) should have been given to Miyabi. This song just seems like it was written for Miyabi's voice. Momo and too many high notes don't mix well. Though I still think she did it better than Airi would have.
It's not all negative from my seat, though! There was one aspect of the music that blew me away, and that was the harmony. The girls always do exceptionally well with this, but I just loved it this time. Airi honestly sounded better doing harmony than her solo parts, so maybe that's what sold me in the end, but still, it's damn good.
The song itself does sound pretty good. It's got that Buono! vibe that we all miss. But as far as how rockin' it is, there's a little too much folksy-ness in the instrumental. Not quite Jimmy Buffett level, but there's just enough there to make me wonder how many margaritas the band had before recording.
While the PV reeks of that low-budget laziness UFA is famous for, it's done well. The camera work, the pink outfits and fun effects saved it. Although I do have to question the wisdom of putting Miyabi in highwaters...
(However, I can totally and completely support the gauged-lobe looking earrings.)
It was nice to see what looks like the original band back in action (you know, instead of a bunch of white guys pretending to play instruments). I always enjoy seeing them because they are half of what is so great about Buono! to begin with. No one else in H!P gets a freaking band, much less real instrumentals (OHEMGEE).
Overall, though I was less than impressed with this release, I can't say I hate it. It was considerably better than Juicy He@rt. But I'm still waiting for another Renai Rider or Rottara Rottara to happen.