For the first time ever on this blog, we’ve got a double song review! Of all my music discoveries this year, Leo Leiri has got to be near the top of the list. She’s got one hell of voice and thankfully her music is equally as enjoyable. While I haven’t explored much of her back catalogue other than 2012’s great Shine, both her 2020 singles have been phenomenal. I’ve been wanting to talk about both Answer and Mikansei since the moment I heard them but I kept pushing them back. But since I feel nice and motivated today, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to finally get around to them! Even better yet, why not discuss my thoughts on both tracks within the same post! So without further ado, it’s time for me to talk about two of my favourite tracks of the year.
A bombastic dance track that melds addictive bursts of acoustic guitar and 80’s synth wave, Answer is one of the years most instant songs. There isn’t a single moment where the track lets up, powering towards its mammoth refrain from its opening moment. The more quirky verses point towards a completely different track all together but are incredibly enjoyable. I love the interplay between the acoustic and electric guitars. It feels wonderfully novel and adds a very interesting texture to the track. However, the dramatic ascending pre-chorus is where Answer truely begins to catch fire. The percussion becomes much more pronounced and healthy dose of strings indicate that we’re in for something truely special.
And boy is it special.
Answer‘s chorus is top musical moments of the year special, powering forward with a chugging beat and equally intoxicating synth wave production. I haven’t heard anything remotely like it this year. It’s an excellent refrain, further enhanced by leiri’s powerful vocals. They shift between reserved and powerful with ease and it makes the song feel truely alive. Few songs have been so instantly expansive in 2020 but Answer really feels like you’re running towards your dreams. Even better is when the track, rather than drop into another verse after the second chorus explodes into a breathtaking instrumental breakdown. It carries the momentum perfectly into the bridge and penultimate chorus, giving an incredible song the climax it deserves.
Final Rating: 9.5 / 10
Whereas Answer was all about the production and chugging dance beats, Mikansei succeeds based purely on leiri’s incredible vocals. This is the kind of mid-tempo that I adore, conveying emotional pathos through a streamlined vocal performance and knockout hook. The vaguely electronic soft-rock based instrumentation here is pure cat-nip to my ears and manages to heighten the drama surrounding the performance tenfold. It knows when to pull back and slam back in to provide full musical catharsis. The chorus hits like a truck every single time and the production snowballs throughout the track to provide a soaring finale.
But none of this would have worked nearly as well without leiri’s vocals which transform what could have been a solid track into something truly excellent. Much like the production, she knows when to pull back and really let it all out. Her vocals and emotions feel genuine and that goes a long way to selling the tracks sentiment. Gone Is the high-pitched vocals of tracks like Shine and in its place is a mature, powerful vocal performance that gives me chills almost every time. Truely great stuff.
Final Rating: 9 / 10