So is this what it sounds like when the often glee-oozing Sebastian X tackle a ballad? Not quite…they aren’t Ayumi Hamasaki-ing it up for the song “Rose Garden, Baby Blue” from forthcoming full-length Futures (say that really fast). Yet the group’s standard-operating kitchen sink sound has been slowed a bit here, sparkling piano coupled with relatively subdued drums and a barely-there guitar. That pushes the vocals to the forefront, and in a lot of other Japanese artists’ hands that would mean some vocal chord showin’ off, all needless drama and endless vocal runs.
Yet Sebastian X’s selling point has always been the lead vocals, which don’t enter the same solar system as most J-Pop singers. Often delivered in a higher pitch that sometimes approaches a yelp, the singing feels equal parts unhinged and impassioned, the sort of performance you can’t really Auto-tune to perfection. That’s the main focus of “Rose Garden,” and if you sometimes pine for a universe where anyone could record a ballad-esque track and release it to decent acclaim, Sebastian X offer a little hope for that. Watch the video above.