Review Summary: An album that changed the interface of Japanese rock forever, "La Vie en Rose" is still that damn good nearly three decades later.
One of the most important bands to the formation of the underground flamboyant visual kei subgenre, D'erlanger (pronounced deranjee, which is supposed to mean indecent temptation in French) came and conquered the Japanese underground circuit with a vengeance within five years of their formation. Originally a heavy metal band, D'erlanger later changed their sound to a more accessible blend of cutting punk and light hard rock, usually ending up somewhere along the lines of heavy alternative rock. Unlike a lot of bands who change their style and fail, D'erlanger didn't slip at all, and rose to the top (no pun intended) instantly afterwards. Released all the way back in February of 1989, "La Vie en Rose" was the album that not only put the guys on the map, but also helped give a face to a booming underground movement that would peak in popularity several years later, as well as mark a great influence of countless Japanese rock bands throughout the years.
The album immediately grabs your attention with the first self-titled track, and the dipping guitars in the first 20 seconds help brace you for quite an enjoyable ride. When the song kicks off with frontman Kyo screaming "HEY, LOOK OUT!", you are immediately plunged deep into the bleak waters of sensual angst, with Kyo both crooning and barking statements of a "psychedelic pleasure" and "forbidden colors within the imagination". When the song ends, the album goes right for the throat without a blink with "1999 -Shy Boy Story-", which is a fast-paced goth-tinged hard-punk jam with a sound that would go on to be emulated by the likes of Kuroyume and more underground acts like Baiser. This type of sound would go on to be experimented later on in the album with the epic finale "Lazy Sleazy".
"Sadistic Emotion" is another classic cut that has a great heartfelt grip to it, with the rhythms of the guitar and the slams of the bass and drums resonating perfectly with the passionate wails of Kyo. "An Aphrodisiac" is a sinister-sounding track that has ominous guitar riffs executed perfectly from guitarist Cipher, with the rest of the band slamming alongside that is both mesmerizing and quite chaotic. "Indecent -Two Persons-" sounds like the prototype to Kuroyume's early catalog, with creepy guitar flutters and cult rhythms that set the track's background up perfectly, accompanied by a bridge that breaks ever-so slightly into jangly pop territory, before abruptly crashing back into the main rhythms with a fast-paced, driving chorus. The track that follows it, "Lullaby", works as the album's exploration into pure pop. Bringing the album back to its bleak nature, "I Can't Live Without You" is a work of gothy passion with Kyo's vocals literally colliding into you at full velocity alongside the frantic musicianship of the band, who add impressive licks and delicious fills for those who pay attention to that sort of thing.
A timeless effort that just gets better and more impressive with age, "La Vie en Rose" is not just solely an important, breakthrough album for the band, it is also an album rich of dynamic and variety. The experimentation efforts are especially solid due to the album only being 10-tracks long with an overall length of about a half-hour, which makes it that much more marvelous of a listen. Without a doubt one of the most important albums of not just the Japanese underground, but of the Japanese 80's music scene in general, "La Vie en Rose" remains D'erlanger's finest moment and one that signified a radical change in Japanese rock music as we all know it.