Review Summary: Just be friends, shall we?
Most artistic designs, such as posters, room layouts, and perhaps music have trended towards minimalistic, sleekness, and decreasingly extravagance in recent years. While music as a whole is far too broad to be reflected by one style, Yukari’s Echo
seems to epitomize upon that idea far too well; it embodies its own title in a very literal sense, with its sea of ambient noises and pulsing synths, along with saturated vocals. It leans on an unapologetically bedroom pop aesthetic with an emphasis on reverb and dreamy soundscapes.
Frankly speaking, “Just Friend” is quite an ironically placed opening track. The overall feeling of Echo
is lush, charming, or even romantic, which is quite the opposite of getting friend-zoned. This irony is amplified by the clarity of the vocal mixing compared to the subdued and undecipherable vocal production in the other tracks. Is getting friend-zoned followed by an amorous atmosphere Yukari’s way of comforting us, or suggesting that rejection isn’t all that bad? Regardless of the answer, “Just Friend” is a rather strong note to open with. Whether the placement or the lyrical content is intentional or not, it’s a make it or break it scenario where the listener should enjoy the entire album if they are on board with it. “Just Friend” is the most complex track in the album, boasting IDM-flavored glitches reminiscent of Sweet Trip’s - Velocity : Design : Comfort
over blaring synthesizer noises. While the album quickly seems to regress in complexity, it only enhances its comfy atmosphere even more.
The experience of this album is similar to a theme park ride at night, be it the carousel moving steadily in circles amidst a variety of colorful lights (“Marginal Man”, “8PM”, or “Am I Dreaming”); or that pounding excitement of the Ferris Wheel reaching its apex to reveal the city scenery in all of its glory, similar to the opening kicks in “Hang On”; or the adrenaline rush that comes with reaching for a new reigning high score on an arcade game within the energetic “Yule”. Echo
also seems to wear the influence of 80’s [Japanese] City Pop in its style of synths, amping up the downtown scenery even more. To me, this album builds upon a relaxed vibe rather than a specific theme or direction, keeping its layout open-ended.
is succinct in its length, sleek in its expression, and modest in its overall foundation. It’s an easy album to drown yourself into without too many active exertions trying to comprehend its themes; none of its carefree moods is lost. And as with any true echo, you'll find yourself hearing it multiple times over.