My brother and I are going to start a series where we will promote notable albums, soundtracks, singles, groups, composers, ect.
Please take a look at all of the projects that we mention if you’re interested.
We came across the Pillows (This goes for many others as well) through the popular anime OVA FLCL, where they did the soundtrack to that series in 2001.
And boy are we glad that we came across them, we have listened to every single one of there albums and none of them are bad at all. Almost every single album by them can be noted albums (Except for Horn Again).
Almost all music composed for the Pillows is by Sawo Yamanaka (Vocalist/Rhythm Guitarist).
Some reviewers have been writing that Sawao has been losing his touch and originality, and call him an “Uninspired songwriter”.
I don’t really believe that is true, especially compared to many common popular groups We’ve listened to, but I digress.
Sawao definitely has a style when he composes music, using many jazz techniques. You’ll especially recognize that whne you listen to albums such as “Kool Spice” and “Living Field”.
But we haven’t gotten tired of his sound, and I don’t know if we ever will, he’s a special songwriter in my eyes.
Trial – The Pillows
“Trial” is the 18th studio album by the Japanese rock band “The Pillows”.
Out of every single production by The Pillows, I have always said that the first album you should listen to by them is “Happy Bivouac”, but after listening to “Trial” that has changed.
This is one of their more emotional albums, like people say for “Please Mr. Lostman”, even in the heavy rock songs.
1. Revival – The opener to this album, and it’s a perfect beginning to this album. Especially with the anthem like vocals in the chorus.
As soon as I heard the openning of this track I though “Genius” and I knew that I was in for a great album.
Probably one of the best tracks on the album, especially with its emotional hook, when it plays the lead with the A chord Triad in the background, Amazing.
2. Rescue – [This song features Yoko From the “The Noodles”.] One of the most original arrangements on this album, the whole song is very odd yet memorable.
A lot of work was put into this piece with its unique ideas mixed into this track.
3. Comic Sonic – A single made the year before around Horn again, amzingly this song fits this album so well.
This is probably the most generic Pillows song on the album, but the chorus I can never get out of my head and I don’t even mind that.
Extremely enjoyable track, deserves the single it has.
By the way, this is one of the ED themes for the anime “Sket Dance”.
4. Flashback Story – This is one of their fun tracks on this album, in a swing it has a lo-fi sound to it, with a catchy chorus. Probably the most forgettable song on the album, but that doesn’t mean it’s forgettable.
5. Energia – This is their single for the album, and rightfuly so. This is a song that I would not be surprised if I heard it on the radio, or I wish it could appear on the radio.
This is basically a build up song. It has this epic quality to it. I like how the verse melody is kind of fast paced, but the background is slow, reminds me of Goldie (D&B, nothing like this track by the way, just the energy of Goldie).
6. A Brilliance of the Polaris, A Trance Didn’t Pick Up – This is the calm track on the album, with little to no distortion on the guitars.
A unique calm song that is very fun to listen to. Different kind of chorus arrangement.
7. Minority Whisper – This is Wynn’s favorite track.
This track is a heavy song almost all the way through. Semi build up, like Revival. The melody is very memorable, and the progressions in the song are pretty breathtaking, or at least to Wynn they are.
8. Ownerless Guitar – This is the emotional and slow track on the album, with a pop and small jazz twang to it.
I don’t usually like slow track because they have a tendency to sound similar to the group’s other slow tracks, or feel depressing, but this track (Even though it’s 7:00 minutes and only has basically 3 sections) does a great job structuring the interesting ideas Sawao has.
The production on this piece is different than the other tracks on this album, such as the drums are louder, ect.
Also, this song contains their signature “Tremolo Guitar” effect that they have used in every single album at least once so far.
9. Trial – This is both Hill and Wynn’s favorite track.
Mainly because it’s so catchy, and the piece has an atmosphere to it, even with the very off key lead.
This track is very loud throuout it, if you look at the wavelength of this track, it’s just a wall from beginning to end, that’s not a problem by the way.
A very heavy, and somewhat emotional track with the way the overlaying melodies combine with the guitar harmonies.
The pre-chorus is genius, as usual by Sawao.
10. Ready Steady Go! – Probably one of the fastest tracks on the album with an anthem feel to it like their genius song “Little Busters”.
The intro is remiscent of their older tracks, and somewhat of a 70s feel to it.
Very good enrgetic song, especially the line “BUSTERS!!!”
I must mention that most of the Pillows albums have this “Lets have some fun” tone to it, the album Trial has a serious tone to it, which is unusual for The Pillows, but it is done extremely well here.
Notable songs with the most serious tone to them: Track 5, 8 and 9.
One thing that they do in at least 5 tracks are these two chord progressions, the D and A chord triads, You’ll hear it in Revival, Rescue, Energia, Trial, and Ready Steady Go!. We put this in the pros because this gives the album an overall themeatic sond to it.
3 English songs: Revival, Minority Whisper, and Ready Steady Go!.
Track listing is very well arranged, it feels like you’re watching a movie listening to the album all the way through, none of the tracks feel out of place or needed to be somewhere else.
All songs were written very professionally (As well as mixed), and as usual the bassist is an expert. They really should add him as a permanent member of The Pillows, because if you took him away, it will take away from the band.
Everything else is mentioned in the descriptions of each track.
There’s one thing that you can not ignore that this album did not include.
There’s a phrase that every single Pillows album has mentioned at least once, can you guess it?
Trust me, just listen to their singles. They did not say this phrase once in the album. I feel like they broke a rule or something along those lines. Well, it just shows you that they really did want this album to be more serious and not as “Fun”.
The album would have been perfect if they added an instrumental as well as their 11th track somewhere in the middle like he has done on albums like “My Foot,” “Good Dreams,” and “Smile.” A good place would be right before track 8.
Sawao’s usual lyrics that make no sense (Usually in the English songs). If you can understand the meanings to his songs, please leave a comment. Like the song “Sweet Baggy Days” amazing song, what the hell do the lyrics mean?
Despite the album having a more mainstream sound than the raw sound they used to have, it’s still a very loud album. So make sure you’re volume is set to 11!
It surpises me that an album by such a prolific band can be at the same level, or better than the previous groundbreaking albums that they’ve composed before.
That almost never happens with a band.
So stay open minded and listen without expectation.
You’ll love it.
Keep pursuing your dreams! ~ Hill & Wynn