Perfume have just launched their latest world tour, which will bring them to the US for the first time—they’ll be performing at the Hollywood Palladium on November 9, and Hammerstein Ballroom in New York on November 15. Their most recent album, LEVEL3, has also been released in the US, through a partnership with electronic label Astralwerks. (Buy it from Amazon.)
The new version is almost identical to the original Japanese edition, with the addition of two bonus tracks—a “Radio Mix” and “DV&LM Mix” of “Spending All My Time.” This is ultimately a good thing; as I said here in my original review, LEVEL3 is “not only Perfume’s best album, but one of the best albums of 2013.”
Granted, it would have been nice to see the B-sides from the Japanese singles from the album included as bonus tracks here, “Hurly Burly” in particular. And the original single mix of “Spending All My Time” remains the ultimate version—as I wrote last year,
“Spending All My Time” was one of the best songs of 2012, a hypnotic track whose vocal melody looped over and over until it was almost like a round; it seemed to build and build without ever actually reaching any kind of musical or vocal climax—indeed, the almost dispassionate way in which the women of Perfume sang the lyrics matched perfectly with its awesome and vaguely terrifying video, in which they portray girls who can shatter objects with their minds, and/but are locked in a small room together where they perform intricate hand-waving choreography together, staring deeply into each other’s eyes before bending spoons or blowing up ceramic figurines. On the album, the song gets to about the 50-second mark before it’s interrupted by the sung phrase “Oh my god,” which signals the arrival of a dance breakdown, and only at about 1:20 does the chorus come in, but the snowballing power of the original has been lost. Also, the arrangement is less spare than on the single, with airy, swooshing keyboards filling in the background, and hard techno demanding that the listener dance rather than surrender to the trance that the single so capably induced.
The two remixes are…interesting, mostly because it’s the first time we’re getting to hear Perfume in the hands of someone other than Yasutaka Nakata, who’s produced all their albums to date. The “Radio Mix” does, indeed, sound like half the EDM-pop currently populating US radio. The vocals are slightly more polished and prominent, and the keyboard lines are perkier and more dancefloor-oriented, than on the Japanese single. Meanwhile, the “DV&LM Remix” is a straight-up banger, with the girls’ voices reduced to a sampled element in the mix as the beat thumps, and entirely new melodies, some of which seem explicitly derived from ’80s electro-pop (I mean, I could imagine Stacey Q singing over this track), zoom and bounce around. It’s fun, and would probably excite the hell out of a club, but it’s not exactly built for home listening. Still, neither of these remixes do anything to mar the amazing consistency of Perfume‘s catalog to date.
Stream LEVEL3 (Bonus Edition) on Spotify: