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Wowaka – “Unhappy Refrain” Review


Vocaloid is something I’ve recently got into over the last year in a huge way and one of my favourite producers is Wowaka. I’d only recently noticed he’d put out an album back in 2011 but my goodness – it’s a fabulous trip at 180bpm to rock heaven.

Opening “Unhappy Refrain” gives you exactly what the next hour will throw at you. Catchy hooks on the guitar, choruses that stick in your head and vocals that speed through the track at a rate a real human would seriously struggle to keep up with at times! “Rolling Girl” is a personal favourite with a fantastic piano melody that runs throughout as the guitars, drums and bass take a more passive role in this excellent angst track. Sometimes the production of all the instruments means that it’ll take a few listens to big up everything going on in the track but not so much here.

“Tsumikino Ningyo” wheels out the synths properly for a more cheeky track with playful melodies that album tango’s its way through the rock track which then slowly irons out the tango and ends up becoming a more rampant 4 by 4 beat. “Bokuno Sainou” has far too much high-end hiss placed on the track but is still a massively catchy track that actually takes more than a second break from extreme head banging! Every track is so complex that its sometimes only in the quieter sections of a track you can appreciate how many complex melodies have been woven into the track to give its overall result.

“Nichijyo to Chikyu no Gakubuchi” is a more funky guitar rock track. Miku Hatsune, whose voice is used during most of the album, is set to a higher pitch than usual and it all works very well although it’s not one of the tracks that immediately sticks to your mind. “Tenohira” however does stick out as about the closest this album comes to a ballad – and even then it’s rocking all the way with thick guitars, keyboards and epic choruses. If I had a lighter, it’d be swaying right about now. “Tosenbo” has an amazing hook and reminds me of a sister to “Rolling Girl” with its emphasis on a rocking piano and angst ridden shouts and screams from a computerised voice! I’ve had this song (well album) on repeat and still never tire of it. “Lineart” then decides – to hell with it – let’s just absolutely mash-up everything into a massive drum roll and guitar trash frenzy for three minutes. The sheer energy takes you over. It’s fabulously free of everything.

“Two Faced Lovers” kick starts the next mega madness. The vocal speed here is simply nuts but it’s always second to the melodies and the chorus is superb, as are the hooks between them. “In The Glay Zone” follows with equally cheesy and fun guitar riffs which don’t quite push everything to the limit and the reason for that is the epic finale where everything goes nuts for its ending thirty seconds. It’s a great change-up that again makes the song stand out. “Zereteiku” returns the arpeggio style riffs that punctuate the album throughout for a short enka styled track before “Revisable Doll” gives us the token Luka Megurine track. Luka’s vocals always sound more adult and darker in tone and she fits Wokaka’s style perfectly too. It’s not my favourite of the album because you can almost have too much of a good thing and by this point you’ll have noticed Wowaka has such a specific style – he’s the best at what he does – but he only does that. It also sounds very similar to “World’s End Dancehall” which has the excellent vocal duelling between Miku and Luka and has more depth to it by having a broken up chorus. The latter track is really getting some new fame after its inclusion in Project Diva F and deservedly so. The closing track is “Prism Cube” which is a great round-up of everything that’s preceded it. It runs a slower pace than most of the album and takes time to breathe. There is a second disc of remixes too – most of which are quite good and turn the tracks into alt-dance versions so if you can get the extended album for not much more in price – go for it.

Perhaps this review bangs on about how excellent it is but harps on about the same thing. Wowaka’s album is very one directional. It is 100% utterly focused on providing quick, catchy tracks to rock your heart out to. The production sometimes lets it down with too much hiss and not enough depth in places but it’s a mighty album at what it does. Don’t except anything else though!


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