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  • Perfume
  • Nee
  • Released in: 2013

Nee is a song driven by a bouncy synthesizer melody over in-your-face snare drums, bringing an intensity to the track. All the while, a melodic singing voice provides a pleasant contrast to the harsher sounds.

REVIEW BY William Bradbury Music EXPERT
Review posted: 27/12/2013

Perfume is the 3-piece J-pop group, giving life to producer Yasutaka Nakata’s musical creations. They have been around for ten years, although their music and image have an ageless quality to them, as they remain forever young in sound and appearance. Compared to other J-pop acts, such as AKB48, their music is more sophisticated, thanks to Nakata, who creates diverse techno backdrops that are musically inventive and often delve into chaotic overload. “Nee” is no exception.

"The song is driven by a bouncy synthesizer melody over a blaring sequence of snare drums, which brings intensity to the track."

The song is driven by a bouncy synthesizer melody over the blaring sequence of snare drums, which bring an intensity to the track. All the while, melodic vocals provide a pleasant contrast to the harsher sounds. The verse melody is a little weak and unmemorable, especially in comparison to the vastly superior single “Laser Beam,” from the same album, but the chorus line in “Nee” is as simple as it is effective. While the lyrics – with lines like, “Umm, Neee, uhhh, neehhh” – will not make Perfume take over Bob Dylan’s song writing turf any time soon, the chorus is effective on a purely infectious pop level. “Nee” is one of the most commonly used Japanese words. Its closest English equivalent would be “right” and its function is to encourage agreement from the listener. The phrase “li nee” is used as the Japanese version of the “like” button on Facebook, while the slight variation of “ii na” is used to suggest jealousy. One of the earliest vocal ticks that foreigners pick up in Japan is using “nee” at the end of English sentences. Anyone who has ever read James Clavell’s famous samurai novel Shogun will be familiar with the word, since it is a huge part of the shoguns’ internal monologues, interjected at the end of sentences. “Nee” can also be used to reinforce what one is saying, and it is sometimes used in isolation. It is not uncommon to hear people reply to a statement with “nee,” highlighting how economical the Japanese are with words in daily conversation. In this last instance, it suggests that the listener fully understands what has been said.

Immediately after the chorus, the song contains experimental chopped-up vocals. Bonkers effects such as this aren't included on tracks by Western popular acts such as One Direction or Rihanna. Some take issue with Nakata sometimes using Perfume’s band members as secondary elements in his production efforts, and this track has moments in which he cuts the vocals up to such an extreme that the sound would not seem out of place in an industrial avant-garde release. It’s not new to hear Nakata take a Perfume vocal track and loop it throughout the song, but it sometimes gives the impression that there’s only occasionally a song-writing process, while at other times, Perfume are mere tools for Nakata to slam onto his beats. This track does not rank as the group’s most organic pop single, but it is an intense blast of power pop that is hard to deny.



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