tricot’s latest album goes by the name of 真っ黒 (Makkuro ). It’s a rather light-sounding album that (at the very least) suggests something more than just surface music. It’s tricot’s first album on a major label which either means something, or means nothing at all. Depends on how much you feel that affects your listening experience.

Makkuro kicks off with “混ぜるな危険” (“Mazeruna Kiken”), which carries a juxtaposition between aggressive loudness and soft, gentle pop sections. It’s a pleasing and smooth opener; perhaps a bit disjointed relative to the rest of the album, but it’s not a bad way to begin things.

The rest of the album sees tricot balance their elements a bit more, though with a clear lean toward pop structures and melody. Sure, they’ve always had pop sensibilities among their mathy structures; one of tricot’s greatest talents is how they combine these elements without sounding as though they’re compromising. However, as a whole Makkuro is less abstract, angular and willing to play with sound than prior releases, giving a sense of of it being less adventurous, though not necessarily less enjoyable.

Many of the songs feel mid-paced (so to speak), though they still carry a great deal of energy and thrust. tricot still perform as a tight and cohesive unit doing what they can to solidify each moment, and they don’t shy away from using complexity to a song’s benefit. However, tricot sound like they’re letting themselves keep things a bit more simple and loose, though not in the strictest sense of what that implies. They’re not always making the most of their abilities and instead letting the album (on average) slow down. In a way it gives more time for both the emotional content and performative aspect to soak in more so than on past releases.

A lot of the vocal melodies and harmonies melodies are rather pretty and appealing; In conjunction with the music underneath they carry emotional tone with a great deal of ease. There’s a little bit of playing around with delivery, though not in a way that creates inconsistency. Generally despite differences in tone and delivery each vocal line fits within its song. However, the vocals seem more prominent both within the songs and in the mix, taking away from the songs a little more than it feels as though they should.

Where Makkuro sits among tricot’s discography is hard to tell. Performance-wise the songs are great; tricot pull them off with ease. Whilst the songs seem simpler and poppier, they still play with dynamics, sound and complexity. The mix is a bit more “clean”, allowing for more clarity in what is going on, though at times it’s a little too bright and polished. Some of the songs see the band mix things up a bit; some are a little too familiar with prior songs which gets a bit distracting.

That all said, whilst some parts are stronger and some are weaker, Makkuro is a solid slice of tricot. It’s an enjoyable listen that remains rather consistent the whole way through.