Well this is one long overdue review.
I’ve known about SixTONES and their long anticipated debut Imitation Rain since its release all the way back in January, but I never really found the time to give it a proper listen. The shortened music video also didn’t help my cause. But ever since the Covid-19 outbreak put a sudden halt on everybody daily activities, I’ve found myself with much more time to spare. And after giving the track (more than) a few listens, I can firmly say that my initial lack of attention towards this track was sorely misguided.
Hailing from one of Japan’s biggest entertainment companies, the incredibly renowned Johnny’s entertainment, SixTONES are pretty much guaranteed gargantuan success from the get go. And while their pre-debut single Japonica Style was anything but a hit in my eyes, Imitation Rain is a fantastic debut effort from the group. Written by legendary songwriter Yoshiki of X Japan fame, Rain fuses gritty theatrical verses with a more soulful and melodramatic chorus. It’s a combination that shouldn’t work on paper, but as usual Japan manage to pull it off in spectacular style.
Opening with an instantly engaging piano line and gradually increasing string section, Imitation Rain then moves into the very KAT-TUN-esque guitar driven opening verse. I especially enjoy how the piano oscillates, helping to conjure images of rainfall. This kind of extended instrumental intro is something of a rarity in current pop music, and It’s not until almost 40 seconds in that we get our first vocal line. And while the pounding percussion and distored guitar point towards something much more bombastic, the rather subtle phrasing and stripped back vocals help convey the tracks more melancholic atmosphere. This sets up incredibly well for the much slower and sorrowful hook, which sails along on an immediately charming melody. Rather than keep building towards a more powerful centrepiece, Imitation Rain strips back into halftime to give us one of the years most resonant centrepieces. The symphonic backings coupled with the groups sentimental vocal performance completely steal the show, making the hook instantly memorable.
One thing that I truly enjoy about tracks such as this, is their ability to convey sentiment through a dynamic arrangement. While Imitation Rain is undeniably cheesy, the production and overall lyricism of the track is phenomenal. The lyrics are edgy as can be, but they are delivered with such conviction and drive that it’s not hard to get caught up in it all. Even that melodramatic and over the top English rap break is incredibly entertaining. A culmination of these elements make Imitation Rain an undeniable success in my eyes, and makes me incredibly excited for the groups future endeavours.
Final Rating: 9 / 10
*The MV below is not the full song, but 3.02 minutes off the track. It’s a nice sampler, but for the full experience try to find a copy of the entire track. I’ll link a live performance video by the official channel down below where the group perform the entire track.