All aboard the Doki Doki Express once more for Aqours’ third big single, Happy Party Train. B-sided with SKY JOURNEY and Shoujo Ijou no Koi ga Shitai. Centered by diving queen Kanan and with a train conductor image, how does this single stack up? Read more for my thoughts.
Happy Party Train sounds like a complete idol riot, if you just look at the title. However the tune is really a mid tempo almost melancholic tune with long verse solo sections, a driving beat and the big chorus. Kanan, Yoshiko and Hanamaru take the first verse, each getting a large chunk to sing. The chorus is jam packed, exploding with Aqours’ massive group voice. It is a big of a let down however, with only the “happy happy train to go” part serving as any kind of earworm. The sound is filled out with strings and a right panned guitar, a synth part plays out a melodic passage in the intro and after the chorus. The strings are used well in the entry of the second chorus where they build a kind of drama. All long the song rides on a steady beat and has a small stop and go before the last repetition of the melodic passage.
The tune is certainly not bad, the use of strings helps instead of making it corny and it’s a lot stronger then the majority of songs from the anime’s first season. Kanan was a suprise choice as a center, she’s likely my favorite character, atleast tied with Dia, and I was so suprised when I saw the single cover. It’s only natural the slower single would go to the most dramatic character. Her vocals are not bad, however she is quickly shown up by Yoshiko and especially Hanamaru in the first verse.
Happy Party Train lacks the big woohooo’s and yaaaah’s of the first two singles, it’s not quite as fun but it’s atleast different. Kimi no Kokoro was pure Muse, and listening back again you can hear the group take more of it’s own sound with this single. Koi ni Naritai Aquarium was fun as hell! But Happy Party Train is a tighter production, just not as grabbing a tune.
The b-sides however are titanic. Sky Journey is absolutely phenomenal, it’s similarly melancholic but features some airy and nice sounding synths. It rides on a back beat and has a brilliant chorus boosted by strings. Vocals are decent and overall the song has a great vibe. I like the quick blast of guitar before the second chorus, a little detail. The quality increase from Happy Party Train to Sky Journey is almost startling, it’s such a better song.
Shoujo Ijou no Koi ga Shitai is a new classic already. It’s fun and, while in tone with the other two songs, feels like some a pleasant summer day. I can feel the sun beat down during the verse with it’s keyboard hits and solid beat. The keyboards reminds me of the Sonic Mega Collection Plus menu music, something that makes me oh-so sentimental. All three of these tracks have excellent production, this one shines the most with all the little touches in the instrumentation.
Aqours is coming onto their own thing. Instantly I feel the group has become a lot better. Happy Party Train is not the best a-side but the other two songs on this single are fantastic and in my opinion the best main group tunes yet. Everything is in tone with each other here, they could make a album with this similar feel and it’d be pretty solid. The production has stepped up and the group vocals, while never perfect, are strong and full of character. The synth driven compositions and Sky Journey’s mighty chorus are highlights. If we where Stepping Zero to One before then this is the groups next big step. Good things are possibly ahead for Aqours, I am very interested!