L'Arc~en~Ciel will always hold a special place in my playlist for the great music they produce, which I first discovered in anime. Then when their album SMILE came out. Someone gave it to me for my birthday and I got to acquaint myself with them on a deeper level. I got hooked on their style.
Seeing as how this year marked their 20th anniversary, someone saw it fit to bring a bunch of artists together from around the world who have been inspired by L'Arc~en~Ciel to create Vivid Covers, a tribute album which also happens to be the name of their third hit single. Follow through to read my full thoughts!
I didn't mention it before, but I also quite like covers and cover albums. The good ones. Either way, I was quick to jump on this feature when it came up and my expectations were set quite high. And for the most part, my expectations were matched, even surpassed!
Before I get into the music, I'll talk about what you get with the physical package. The booklet is under a sleeve with some fan images, and once you open it the first thing is an English and Japanese summary of L'Arc~en~Ciel's career. Then, there's a track-by-track list of production information, and finally a participating artist-by-artist section with an image and a brief statement if they had anything to say about L'Arc or the tribute album.
Now that's out of the way, here's the skinny:
The album starts out strong with Keshiki and Lemon Drop Kick dropping solid covers of "Niji" and "New World (a high-energy opening track for the album AWAKE)." This is the point at which I was impressed enough to keep on going with the expectation that the rest of the album would be just as great. Orochi's "Dune" (from L'Arc~en~Ciel's very first album of the same name) and Garnet Wolf's "Coming Closer (from that album SMILE I mentioned earlier)" were also great choices to close out the tracklist.
If you ask me what the low point is, I'd say that Akai SKY's cover of "Daybreak's Bell" (one of my favorite songs ever, and the first opening of Gundam 00) and Howling in Redemption's rendition of "AS ONE" fell short of the mark. Unfortunately, when it comes to covers, they're only worth a listen if they're at least as good as the original. "Daybreak's Bell" had no depth to the vocals (though the instruments were good) and as for "AS ONE," I'm not sure metal/growling is the way to go with L'Arc's style. Bigger metalheads than I may appreciate it, however.
The rest of the album is solid, and all the female artists that contributed knocked it out of the park. Vivid Covers is a nice tour of L'Arc's music, taking hit songs from their repertoire and bringing them together as an appropriately reverent tribute.
For fans of L'Arc~en~Ciel's music, I'd recommend this for the sheer fun of it. It's nice to hear the words and tunes with a spin by another artist. I haven't personally heard of any of the folks who got involved in the album though, so I couldn't say whether fans of anyone in particular should tune in (though it looks like Lemon Drop Kick is a band I'll start keeping track of, along with a few others). It's a nice way to sample the style of various people at once while listening to music you already love.
While I certainly wouldn't say that I'll listen to Vivid Covers over the real thing, it's something fun to pick up when you're in the mood for something different. I gotta have my Hyde fix every now and then, after all. If you've never listened to them (and why haven't you?!), you can check out their site for info, samples, pictures, all that good stuff.
[8.5 - Great. Vivid Covers is what a cover album should be, and it's a good listen whether you're just getting into L'Arc or already love their music.]
From other sites around the web