Perfume has returned!
2021 has been a relatively quiet year for electropop trio Perfume in terms of releases, having released a digital single in the summer as part of a tie-in with the Japanese version of the popular TV show The Masked Singer. That said, Perfume continues to treat fans with new content every year, even if it means re-releasing that same single in an EP containing different variations of the song and adding two new tracks into the mix. That EP is the “Polygon Wave EP“, which is Perfume’s first physical release of 2021, and it has the girls exploring futuristic yet nostalgic territory.
With the continued assistance of producer Nakata Yasutaka, the girls look to ride the polygon waves of 2021 as we near the end of the year, but are the waves high enough to sweep other J-pop competition or are Perfume at a stand-still in their long careers with this release?
Polygon Wave (Original Mix)
“Polygon Wave (Original Mix)” introduces the mini-album, and it fully expects you to have already listened to the prior release up to this point, considering it comes first. It is a more than 1:30 minutes long, adding in an additional segment part-way into the song, occurring around the 2:45 mark, though everything else remains the same (which I’ll talk about more in the next track). Interestingly, it doesn’t quite add much to the ‘original’ release, though I will admit, it’s an addition that I don’t mind. It almost reminds me of a Nakata Yasutaka-styled ‘album-mix’ or ‘extended-mix’ of sorts, but considering this is the actual original version, it can’t be counted as so. That said, it is certainly a wave of a song, as it ebbs and flows throughout, and it’s one I don’t mind riding with. ⬛
In this world, full of artificial things, what is a dream I want?
“Polygon Wave” is the original, original release, having been released as a digital single in July and making its tie-in debut with the broadcasting of the Japanese version of The Masked Singer. As mentioned earlier, a whopping 1:30 minute is chopped out, making the track short and sweet. I didn’t mention my views on the song much prior, so here’s where I’ll bring it forward.
It’s a fun electro-disco track that harks back to what almost seems like GAME-era sounds. It’s a very Nakata song, opting for a synth-y piano melody that’s got funky guitar layered over at segments. The lyrics talk of an artificial world that has you thinking “Fushizen na Girl”, but its sound seems nostalgic; I do admit, it’s not one I’m surfing the waves over, but even in its short form, its a wave that makes one wonder if Perfume is going back to their roots. ⬛
Polygon Wave (Remix)
“Polygon Wave (Remix)” continues the polygon wave of the EP’s title track variations, and I have to admit, I’m not fond of this one. Clocking at 6:23 minutes in length, it just feels too long and when you’ve already heard two versions of the title song prior, you kind of just feel like things need to change. I will admit, the instrumental is completely changed over for a heavier 80s synth sound, but it doesn’t seem to flow very well with the vocal melody that the girls sing for the title song. Perhaps this one might require more listens over time, but with its length and disjointed-ness, I don’t even know if I’m up to ride this one. Sorry, girls. ⬛
Romanization: Mugen Loop
Translation: Infinite Loop
“∞Loop“, otherwise known as ‘Mugen Loop’, is one of the two new tracks on the mini-album, and it definitely saves this mini-album from becoming what could have almost been a Hamasaki Ayumi-style ‘single’; one can only take “Polygon Wave” variations before the waves of water in your head get you dizzy. Anyway, this is a fantastic song; perhaps its the hypnotic, almost-“Clockwork” style of its funky guitar instrumental, or perhaps it’s the subtle way the girls sing the track of the frantic melody. Whatever the case may be, it lives up to its name, as the melody loops almost like it could go on infinitely, and I wouldn’t regret looping this track from now until infinity. ⬛
Romanization: Android And
“Android&“, otherwise known as ‘Android And’, is the last of the two new tracks on the mini-album, and it is a serve! My favorite track on the mini-album, and it is the saving glory of the mini-album; otherwise, this would have become a disappointment for me. Again, Perfume’s got some funk going on with the funky intro guitar, before we extend into familiar electronica territory; the instrumental grows frantic as it tacks on additional synth, but they all blend together into a chaotic catchy sound that I haven’t heard from Nakata in a very long time. It’s reminiscent of songs from Triangle-era, but it contains recent Nakata elements that make me think he’s got a few tricks coming for later releases. If this is what androids are like, then I don’t mind seeing them more in the future. ⬛
System Reboot (Perfume LIVE 2021 [polygon wave] intro)
“System Reboot (Perfume LIVE 2021 [polygon wave] intro)” is the last track on the mini-album, and I guess it makes sense for it to be last if you intend on repeating the mini-album over and over, as it sort of (and I mean, sort of) segues into the beginning. That said, it’s… not good. At least, it’s not good for a while. It sort of feels like the demon child of “FUSION”, “STORY”, and “Polygon Wave”, which might sound like a three-way match on paper, but in execution, it just doesn’t bode well as its own track. Perhaps this might look fierce seen live, but again, did this warrant its own as a part of their discography? Probably not. I’m considering just doing a shut-down instead, but who knows? Not all system restores start out successful, but they might just fare better over time… ⬛
Despite some bumps, the “Polygon Wave EP” cements Perfume as a formidable force in the Japanese pop music scene, even after 20-plus years. The electropop trio continue to pump out some great hits, in part thanks to Nakata Yasutaka, who is recently seeing a creative surge and is blending in a lot of former works with recent sounds for new content. This might be a good indication of what’s to come for Perfume’s next releases, even as they push towards an age where they may have to consider disbandment (and I will pray that day does not come in the near future… I need more Perfume content in my life).
I give this mini-album a soft recommend, and the saving grace here is “Android&”, though I also have to give it to “∞Loop” for having enough greatness to not make this a mini-album that’s only worth listening to for one song. “Polygon Wave” is a great song, but I don’t think I’ll find myself listening to it too often. The waves are riding high, but like water, it’ll only last for so long. Here’s hoping Perfume has something better on the horizon!
MUST-LISTEN: アンドロイド&, ∞ループ
For more Perfume reviews, visit the archive!