CHAIN, released on 2.22.12, is KAT-TUN’s 6th album. The first album since Jin officially left the group.
The album starts off with 「LOCK ON」, which starts with some electronica before going into a full-on rock instrumental. The first verse starts off with “hey!” as Kame takes the lead before switching between members later. The chorus is energetic as they sing, “Gotta lock on, girl!” It’s a fairly short chorus, just to say “gotta lock on, girl” lots of times. The song is repetitive and there isn’t anything that special about this song besides being a full on rock coupled with electronica piece.
「ONE DAY」 uses electronica to create a repetitive beat (that reminds me of Lady Gaga) as the guys do a bit of ad-lib before going into Kame’s solo lines in the first verse. Junno follows as the instrumental is a jumbled instrumental with electronica, guitar, and random sounds going on. The chorus is bright in comparison to the rest of the song as they sing, “you you you, one day, one day!” One thing I should point out is that in the verses, they sing according to the beat of the song, so it is continuous and they match up nicely together. The song suddenly includes a violin (?) in the third verse that brings in a orchestral sound, which totally confuses me about what this song is trying to be. It’s very messy.
「BIRTH」 is an upbeat rock track that is pretty fast paced. The boys do a great job harmonizing with one another; they’re kinda adopting Arashi’s way of singing songs (going in pairs/trios) instead of just having solo lines, though I would prefer if someone other than Kame had a lot of solo lines. Anyway, with how fast the song is, it is a bit difficult to keep up with it.
「ULTIMATE WHEELS」 is what I’d think is a orchestra take on rock, especially with the orchestra beginning before the guitars come in. The instrumental is incredibly louder than their vocals, which irks me. The whole song itself feels like an attempt at a more melodic take on rock with the inclusion of orchestra instruments, but the imbalance between the instrumental and vocals are just bothering me.
「FINALE」 is Junno’s solo. It starts off with some “winding” sounds before techno, the synthesizer, and some electronica sounds come in. As soon as Junno starts singing, I think it’s messed up already with his autotuned vocals. Anyway, judging from the support vocals and the lyrics, this song has a somewhat energetic, but still slightly naive suggestiveness to it.
「STEP BY STEP」 is Nakamaru’s solo. I think this song immediately sounds something classic of Nakamaru; the instrumental is a bright electronica but it’s cute. For some reason, Nakamaru’s vocals sound a little bit autotuned. Or maybe it’s just me? The song is slightly quick paced, which goes faster once Nakamaru gets to the bridge. The chorus has a intimate sound to it as a female vocal sings together with Nakamaru, which completes the “feel” I think they were probably going for. I like the third verse a lot; it’s really cute the way he sings the lyrics.
「RUN FOR YOU」 has some prominent techno beats along with the electronica, which kinda reminds me of Lady Gaga for some reason. Anyway, the lyrics are quick paced as they zoom into the chorus where they sing, “Run run run run for you, run run run for your life” (for a second, I thought life was love). The chorus tends to get irritating after a while, tbqh. The verses are really short so the song gets to each chorus fairly fast. The third verse has autotune, after a bit of a dance/instrumental break, which I find absolutely unnecessary. Yeah.. I don’t like this song.
Next up is 「あの日のように (Ano Hi no You ni)」, which is a calming ballad that starts off with a pretty nature-like instrumental before going into the first verse and Kame’s weird ad-libs and Koki’s low raps. Ueda (I’m pretty sure) starts off first with slow, low vocals before the others follow. Things speed up just a little in the bridge as the guys sing together as they sing, “I just wanna feel it, I will never ever forget,” The chorus brings all the instruments together as they sing together in a nice harmonized and calming piece.
「ずっと (Zutto)」 is Kame’s solo. It starts with slowly with a few echoes of a keyboard key before an echo-y electronica and guitar come in as Kame begins to sing this mid-tempo ballad. The first part of the song is slow, but once he gets the first verse he goes a little faster, almost as if he’s whispering into your ears. There’s a somewhat ethereal-ness to the instrumental, actually. Especially with how Kame sings in this song.
「SMILE FOR YOU」 speeds things back up as a electronica and synthesizer comes in while the guys sing, “smile for you~” The instrumental is pretty loud over their vocals as the guys sing energetically, but I guess it isn’t that distracting from the overall feel of the song (yet).
「儚い指先 (Hakanai Yubisaki)」 brings in the harp (?) mixed in with some electronica, synthesizer, and guitar for a somewhat futuristic-like but peaceful instrumental. It still sounds very pop-y though as the guys sings single lines that are followed by harmonizing together.
「~again」 is Ueda’s solo. It begins with a keyboard instrumentation followed by the addition of orchestra as Ueda sings in a mid-tempo pace. It’s a very pretty instrumental, but I’d expect from Ueda, actually. I feel like this song is also pretty reminiscent of his other solo songs (the flower ones), but that isn’t a bad thing. Once the song gets to the bridge and chorus, the instrumental becomes extremely busy as all the instruments come playing at once, almost burying Ueda’s vocals.
「CHANGE UR WORLD」 is a strong rock song in the style of an action-packed song. Kame starts up the song with strong, but soft vocals before being followed by the other members. They all sing together for the bridge before going into a upbeat chorus, “you can change the world!” Koki takes up most of the third verse before Ueda provides some really pretty vocals before finally going into the last chorus.
「DANGEROUS CAT ~MAKE ME WET~」 is Koki’s solo. The song starts off with the sound of… a pound? Then Koki comes in with a squeaky vocals. Uhhh. Well, anyway, as the name suggests, this is the third continuation to MAKE ME WET (1st) and MAKE U WET (2nd). So uh, yeah. I’ll leave that to your own thoughts. Just know, this is extremely suggestive if you haven’t already heard the first two solos before.
The guys immediately start off 「歩道橋 (Hodokyo)」 by harmonizing in a slightly mid-tempo ballad with a keyboard and band instrumental. The first verse starts off with Kame as the guitar and keyboard plus some percussion makes up the instrumental. It’s a pretty song and I can somehow imagine this as a winter song that KAT-TUN would sing ala out in the streets or on a building haha.
「WHITE」 is a cheerful song with a prominent guitar solo that quiets down as Kame starts up the first verse. With it’s quick, upbeat pace, the song itself is very uplifting. It’s honestly a very… normal song if it weren’t for the guitar which is definitely the star in this piece. Seems NEWS/Arashi-ish with a KAT-TUN twist of rock to it.
The album ends with 「SOLDIER」, a strange orchestra instrumental starting things off before suddenly a harsh guitar instrumentation comes in with it. The guys sing quickly along with the instrumental as a synthesizer randomly appears in the bridge before everything crashes together in the chorus. I mean, wtf is this? The instrumental altogether is so strange.
So, I think with this album, KAT-TUN are certainly shaping up. I really enjoyed Ano Hi no You ni and Zutto. There are a couple other really nice songs on this album, but they’re just missing a thing or two or they would’ve been even better.