Tonight I got drunk and decided to do a track-by-track review of one of the best albums ever, the 2013 insta-classic The Pink Album by MAGWest favorites, Kirby's Dream Band. Here's all 1700 unedited words of it:
The opening to this song perfectly sums up the album, especially when the full band kicks in. The instruments are completely loaded, and when the guitars join it's over. The album is absolutely over as soon as it starts. Call the match.
And then at the 1:00 mark it just gets disgusting, as far as first tracks are concerned. The understanding of what makes a Kirby song special is what really makes Kirby's Dream Band special. If Kirby heard this opening track he would lose his mind.
This is the real stuff, though. The first few seconds of "Islands" are worth the price of the album alone. The way the guitars flow into the cascading keys and drums and transition to the more complex duet makes this a next-level VGM song.
Again, it's the minute mark that makes this track an entirely different beast. It has a lot to do with how closely KDB conforms to the original flow of the tracks, but that's part of their charm. The pick-up at 1:00 is beyond revolting. It's the kind of song you'll put on loop for that moment specifically, and then when it approaches the 90-second mark it turns every other cover into chop suey. 2:00? Forget about it, this album is done. By the time the last 30 seconds are rolling you might as well call it a day.
Mr Shine & Mr Bright
This has a tooty intro that leads into one of the best VGM grooves ever put down. The 12-second mark is a moment in time that doesn't work without the seconds that preceded it. The same goes for the 24-second mark and the 41-second mark. It's ghoulish, for real. Just some putrid wreckage that belongs in a time capsule.
The rest of the track is pretty remarkable, but the heights it ends up reaching around the 1:40 mark are so grandiose that it's tough to fully appreciate them. The return to a more standard groove as we approach the 2-minute mark is similarly outrageous. The end of the song could be the end of a normal album.
Street Fighter II
I'm always kind of dubious going into this one. It comes off the high of some really incredible Kirby tracks, but it's hard not to appreciate it by the time it really blasts off. The transition at 1:27 is sublime, and the momentum carries through until the last note, which screeches into the heavens like an unshackled harpy.
The brilliance of the album can truly be seen when going from the high end note of SFII to one of the most deviously nasty Kirby songs. "Go Kirby!" is a balls-blazing fast trip down a grass hill, rolling head over heels in a breakneck race to the finish. It has a dueling playfulness to its opening minute before it hits a pro-Kirby rally.
And then it gets seriously nasty. All bets are off at the 90-second mark. The final stretch of the race is loud, pulsing, and gross. The redemption at the end almost makes you think they won't destroy you with the next track.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
But they do, of course. KDB's Sonic the Hedgehog 2 cover is transcendent. You can't talk about the first leg of the medley without mentioning the steady, climbing bass line. The keys are something else, but it's the transition at 1:35 that really makes me want to jump in a river. What follows might be the most successful two minutes in VGM history. The final 30 seconds of drumming belongs in a museum.
I've already mentioned a few unstoppable song intros, but this is another one. This is the track that checks anyone who got too comfortable during Sonic 2. The change-up to and from the particularly upbeat Kirby then back to the more pressing, time-limit-stressing Dedede music is tremendous.
2:15 is probably the most memorable transition on the whole album. Don't listen to this shit unless you have somewhere to be and you're trying to get there fast.
This is a beautifully inserted interstitial. It works perfectly as a swaying, mid-album mood swing. The heat of the previous tracks dissipates as the classic Kirby tunes serve up a soothing salve. The song may be called "Kracko," but it doesn't make me as wacko as the preceding tracko. That was a sentence I really hated typing but I refuse to change it. Anyway, despite the light fare the arrangement still manages to be full and hit hard.
The chill break around the 2:00 minute mark will actually bring your blood pressure down remarkably. The ending of the track manages to be hopeful, aggressive, and dreamy at once.
My three favorite Chrono Trigger covers are by Super Guitar Bros., Battlecake, and Kirby's Dream Band. If there's anything that pushes KDB's into the #1 spot it's:
i) the thick, gutting opening bass
ii) the desperate notes around :30
iii) the serene keys that follow
iv) the harp-ass shit around 1:17
iv) the heartbreaking piano and bass combo at 1:43
This is a song that was clearly made with the utmost respect and admiration for its source material. Once the full jam kicks in at 2:27 you're ready to go on a time-bending adventure, and the acoustic guitar is nothing but MUAH. The guitar harmonics at 3:10 are simply extra-terrestrial.
This is a surprising song, but the jovial Cave Story opening works pretty well following the epic finale to Chrono Trigger. I love the Cave Story soundtrack but sometimes I hate how corny the interplay between the notes is in the opening. It's remarkably faithful, but the album is better for it once it hits the 2:22 mark.
This section could just as easily fit into the Street Fighter II song. It has that chugging immediacy that makes you want to throw your opponent through a gargantuan steel temple bell. The rest of the track continues to raise the stakes, with keyboard flutters that reverberate around the room, and by the time it ends you kind of forgot how cloyingly it opened. The final minute sounds more like a high-stress Kirby theme.
Dream Land Days
Speaking of Kirby, the carnivalistic opening of "Dream Land Days" is a fitting rebuttal to the proud, victorious closing of the Cave Story track. Most of this track rings familiar bells. Playful back and forth that marries guitars and keys seamlessly with effortless bass tracks and absurdly precise drums. There are plenty of open calls for obnoxious fills but they smartly keep it simple, even as the carnival rockets into the stratosphere.
Final Fantasy IV
There aren't many first notes more accurate in the world of VGM. If you dig Final Fantasy battle themes the FFIV track is a colossal wonder. Every instrument is on point, and the transition at 1:38 makes me want to jump into my TV and never come back. Do not walk around at night and listen to this song because you will get into at least a dozen hard-fought random battles. By the time you hit 2:37 you'll be a husk of a human, the rest of the track a wavering blur.
Pokémon Red and Blue
Even if you've never played Pokémon you'll know the first seconds are an undeniable call to battle. It's exceedingly dangerous to place this song immediately after Final Fantasy IV. I can only chalk this up to irresponsibility on the band's behalf, but the fact remains that you won't find a better medley based on fucking Pokémon Red and Blue. Give me a break. I was 17 when I played through that game in a hotel in Utah and I don't think I could do it again today.
Nevertheless, the intensity of facing off in the tall grass courses through my veins when listening to KDB's cover. The pristine perfection of the rolling drums and keys that will, for no obstacle or abomination, stop their incandescent jamming.
The Search for Heart Stars
The opening notes of this return to Kirby could be the closing of anyone's life. One could hardly ask for more than to be escorted by the soft, graceful wings of death as it glides along this rapturous melody. The search for heart stars might as well be the knowing closure of every conscious door. To listen to this track is to abandon everything you know, lest you out yourself as anything less than a heavenly creature.
It's around the 1:50 mark that we enter what some may crudely dub the "next plane of existence." The Hey Dude-esque flourishes at 2:51 do not go unnoticed. The rest of the song is a caribbean daydream until it rocks you awake.
Revenge of Meta Knight
If anyone knows how to build to a finale it's KDB. With "Revenge of Meta Knight" they mimic the progression of a video game, echoing previous achievements in a more accomplished flurry of melodic exchanges and rebuttals. The aural marriage that results at 0:55 is at that point a foregone conclusion.
There are so many instrumental fights in this song it's like an entire pay-per-view in and of itself. The winner, of course, is you, dear listener. You remain privy to the kind of behind-the-scenes showcase of bravado few get to witness in their lifetime. The double-bass-drum bullying near the end is nothing but a puffing of the chest before it all comes to a comical collapse.
Milky Way Wishes
If KDB is a gala showcase, the final track is the moment when all the bands present get back together on stage and jam all at once. It opens with the kind of slick showmanship that makes you either want to clap or barf, depending on what mood you're in. Once the rest of the track gets rolling the entirety of the album coalesces into one swirling mass. It would have been much easier to simply not bother attempting to close off such a tightly-crafted album, but KDB makes it seem a simple task. "Milky Way Wishes" incorporates rhythms and themes we've heard since the first track, and it does so without seeming corny. It simply does so.