Vickeblanka – Devil

3 out of 5

Label: Avex Trax

Produced by: ?

Vicke delivers another batch of fantastic singles, as well as an appreciated leaning towards stripped down, piano-and-voice focused tracks which focus us on his playing, composition, and singing skills, matured beyond the quirky (but thoroughly enjoyable) piano pop of earlier releases.  However, as though to counter this, ‘Devil’ then also does something similar to ‘Wizard,’ dabbling in a couple of dancefloor-ready glitzed up songs – Save This Love, Heal Me – which are neither very original or include much of Vickeblanka’s identity throughout.  This, unfortunately, comes along with the album’s rather unsuccessful sequencing, which puts these unremarkable songs back to back and then also puts the two most upbeat songs – ‘Shekebon!’ and ‘Ca Va?’ – right next to each other as well at album’s start, which makes their core beats’ similarities too apparent, even if both songs are insanely catchy, and starts the whole thing off with the puzzling intro title track, which lacks the cinematic vibe of earlier album’s intro songs and just comes across as a rather odd, distracting way to start things off.  But, so I continue to pair criticisms with positives, this outing’s Black Clover single – ‘Black Catcher’ – is a huge improvement over ‘Black Rover,’ sounding first and foremost like a Vicke song, more fully enmeshed in the piano-pop on which his sound is founded, then adding in the distorted guitar licks in a seamless fashion.

Devil’s overall reliance on quieter moments – Lucky Ending, the beautifully stripped down かたうた – shows Vickeblanka’s continued potential and growth, while also giving us the immensely catchy tunes which merit instant replays.  Some too-apparent repetition and a couple of rather faceless tracks are highlighted by unfortunate sequencing, though, relegating the album to a more mid-tier experience overall.