beats dance dream pop dreamgaze electronica j-pop review synth

Cuushe – Waken Review

A tale of emergence

Sounds like…

Quintessential dream pop.

The review

Cuushe is the stage name for Mayuko Hitotsuyanagi who last released music back in 2015. Returning to music after a terrifying harassment saga from a music producer, this sees Cuushe rediscovering a stronger voice in her hazy clouds of dreamy electronica.

‘Waken’ is an album that will appeal to club, dance and dream pop fans alike as Cuushe manages to straddle all three. She enjoys a good throwback to the early 90’s dance scene but keeps it in a warm, large keyboard pad vibe. Tracks like ‘Magic’ and especially ‘Emergence’ relish in this vibe, adding fun grooves, guitar riffs and multi-layered vocals that tick all the various boxes. We even have light garage beats with ‘Not to Blame’.

Cuushe

The majority of the album spends its time in the power dream pop genre though. Tracks like ‘Spread’ remind me of bands like Do As Infinity doing ballads and Genki Rockets. They share similar vibes but Cuushe’s music is usually a bit busier. She loves chopping up vocals and using radiofrequency warbles and synth arps to fill out her sound. It works really well for the most part and lends to big finales where everything pools together. It is also a bass-heavy album. Dream pop is often associated with being light and airy but that is not the case here. Cuushe, in her more defiant and warrior-esque form, wants the bass to throb alongside the thick and rich synth pads. This works a treat when everything is playing all at once. The only criticism I have is that on a couple of the tracks, like ‘Hold Half’, ‘Nobody’ and ‘Drip’ – Cuushe’s vocals are so smudged they sound a bit out of tune. It doesn’t affect any of the stronger vocal tracks where she sings clearly – only the extra hazy ones. It is a stylistic choice that didn’t gel with me personally but it doesn’t ruin the mood or the music.

Regardless, having someone return to music after such a terrible experience within the music scene is brave. As this album shows through its lyrics, song titles and Mayuko’s stronger vocal dominance – she’s not taking it lying down. A true fighter in the music business, this is a sumptuous two-fingered salute to her stalker and a thank you to herself for the strength her has mustered. We salute you Cuushe.

Recommended track: Emergence

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Cuushe - Waken

7.5

7.5/10

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